Friday, January 30, 2015
Open Thread - January 30, 2015

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Pauleen Brewer 04:00 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Teacher wins kudos for school’s wetland education area
Jeremy Bauer-Wolf ― Maryland Independent

Only several years ago, a large swath of the J.C. Parks Elementary School campus was flat turf and a shallow ditch — unrecognizable from the current setup, which features a small pavilion and the school’s own little wetland, teaming with wriggling bits of wildlife native to Maryland.

The catalyst behind this beautification is one woman: fourth- and fifth-grade instructor Deanna Wheeler, a veteran teacher of more than 30 years, whose commitment to environmental education, and countless hours of planning, grant-writing and additional work outside the classroom, have earned her the honor of Teacher of the Year by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to cleansing the waters of the bay and its tributaries via educational and community outreach initiatives.

Sammy 04:32 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Hogan, Franchot Share Concerns Over Procurement, School Maintenance at Governor’s First Public Works
Anjali Shastry and Brian Marron ― Southern Maryland Online

At his first Board of Public Works meeting, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan found an ally in Comptroller Peter Franchot, who supported the governor’s increased focus on school maintenance over replacement, and reforming the state’s contract-award process.

Seventeen school districts and the Maryland School for the Blind presented funding requests to repair or rebuild existing schools.

Hogan said he is disgruntled by efforts to rebuild schools entirely, saying that maintenance should keep buildings functioning and they should not have to “build a new school every 15 or 20 years.”
[...]
Among the requests were Baltimore County asking for funding to do basic upkeep on schools, such as providing heating and air conditioning; Cecil County requesting funding regarding water leakage in an elementary school; and Charles County asking for a new elementary school due to overcrowding in existing schools.

Sammy 04:29 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Zillow: Here’s what everyone gets wrong about buying and selling houses
Mark Calvey ― Baltimore Business Journal

In a new book, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and the firm’s chief economist Stan Humphries question some age-old maxims of real estate. “Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate,” which was released this week, shares insights gleaned from analyzing extensive residential real estate data Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) has collected over the years.

Here are seven myths they try to bust:

Sammy 04:25 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Report lists cars with highest and lowest rates of deaths
Chip Reid ― CBSNews.com

For years, crash tests have shown steady improvement in vehicle safety. Now a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety confirms those findings.

“We’ve seen a lot of stories about recalls and people may be nervous about the vehicles, but the fact is vehicles are as safe as they have ever been,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

According to the report, the chances of dying in a crash in a late-model vehicle in 2011 fell by 41 percent, compared to late-model vehicles in 2008.

Sammy 04:23 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Drone maker to prevent flights over much of D.C.
Drew Hansen ― Washington Business Journal

The Chinese maker of the small drone that crashed at the White House this week is updating its firmware to disable them from flying over much of Washington, D.C., according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Shenzhen, China-based SZ DJI Technology Co., the world’s biggest commercial drone maker by revenue, said it plans to send out the firmware update next week that would prevent its drones from taking flight within the restricted flight zone over the District, according to the report. The update will also limit the altitude of drone flights in a larger zone around Washington.
[...]
The firmware update will also disable drone flights across national borders, a measure in response to a meth-toting drone from DJI that crashed in Tijuana, Mexico.

Sammy 04:20 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Counties disappointed they didn’t get back highway user revenues
Rebecca Lessner ― MarylandReporter.com

The top priority for county and municipal officials in Maryland is the restoration of highway user revenues used to build local roads, but Gov. Larry Hogan is actually giving them $16 million less in his budget, despite promises to restore it during his campaign..

“We’re basically kicking the can down the road, ultimately it will come full circle and become an even a bigger problem,” Washington County Commissioner John Barr of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) warned the Budget and Taxation Committee at briefing on Tuesday.

The reduced funds counties and towns are given only help them limp along until funds for essential repairs are raised. Thus, they say they are wasting money on band-aid fixes that will only last a short time.

Sammy 04:18 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Comptroller Franchot to Push State Procurement Reforms
Andrea Mansfield ― Maryland Association of Counties - Conduit Street

Comptroller Peter Franchot, who was recently sworn in for another term as State Comptroller, used his swearing-in as an opportunity to discuss the need to fix the State’s procurement system. As reported by MarylandReporter.com,
[...]
The Comptroller stated he intends to seek reforms that would “require a greater degree of commitment to transparency, competition and attentive management.”

Sammy 04:15 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Office tenants choose mixed-use centers
Robert Steuteville ― Better Cities & Towns

Office tenants prefer amenity-rich, mixed-use centers (also known as “live, work, play” locations) over single-use office parks by a margin of 83 percent to 17 percent, according to a NAIOP Research Foundation report.

The nationwide study Preferred Office Locations: Comparing Location Preferences and Performance of Office Space in CBDs, Suburban Vibrant Centers and Suburban Areas, was commissioned by the research arm of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

Most of the nation’s office space—77 percent—is in the suburbs. The last half of the 20th Century was dominated by the development of suburban office parks. Since 2000, however, central business districts (CBDs) have revived. Lately, also, mixed-use centers have captured much of the suburban office market.

Sammy 04:13 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
California Declares Electronic Cigarettes a Health Threat
FENIT NIRAPPIL ― ABC News

California health officials Wednesday declared electronic cigarettes a health threat that should be strictly regulated like tobacco products, joining other states and health advocates across the U.S. in seeking tighter controls as “vaping” grows in popularity.

The California Department of Public Health released a report saying e-cigarettes emit cancer-causing chemicals and get users hooked on nicotine but acknowledging that more research needs to be done to determine the immediate and long-term health effects.

“E-cigarettes are not as harmful as conventional cigarettes, but e-cigarettes are not harmless” said California Health Officer Ron Chapman. “They are not safe.”


Related CBS News article Do e-cigarettes break the hold of Big Tobacco or condemn kids to addiction?

Sammy 04:08 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Census Bureau: 7 million more kids on food stamps than in 2007
Kelly Cohen ― Washington Examiner

More children received food stamps in 2014 than before the start of the Great Recession.

The number of kids who receive food stamps in 2014 passed the 16 million mark for the first time since the U.S. Census Bureau started publishing the statistic in 2007, the government agency said Wednesday.

Prior to the economic recession that began in 2007, just one in eight — or roughly nine million — children were receiving food stamp assistance, compared to the one in five now on the program.

Sammy 04:06 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Department of Education nearly fails ‘plain writing’ rules with ‘D’
Paul Bedard ― Washington Examiner

The federal agency that suggests what American schools should teach and grades the performance of millions of students with ever-expanding federal standards barely passes Uncle Sam’s biggest demand: complying with rules to write in plain English.

A new study of how federal agencies write public documents gave the Department of Education an embarrassing grade of “D.” Even the Treasury Department, home to the Internal Revenue Service, got an “A.”

Education’s low grade was one of the highlights of the Center for Plain Language’s annual Federal Plain Language Report Card. It judges how well agencies are complying with the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

Sammy 04:04 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Medicare lost $35M on powered scooters, wheelchairs for ineligible recipients
Luke Rosiak ― Washington Examiner

Federal and media watchdogs have for years been exposing Medicare scams involving power scooters and wheel chairs paid for with tax dollars and given to people who don’t medically need them or who use them for convenience instead of walking. So how can the fraud still be happening?

Of 100 prescriptions reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General, 47 were given out wrongly, often because a doctor had never even seen the patient. Medicare pays more than $500 million annually for an estimated quarter million wheelchairs, power scooters and related products.

The sample of 100 was limited to cases where billing codes showed that Medicare hadn’t paid a doctor for an exam in addition to paying for the wheelchairs, which cost $2,400. It also excluded $84 million in payments that raised red flags for a variety of other reasons.

Sammy 03:59 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
PARCC testing begins next month, resources available on website
Charles County Public Schools

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is preparing to administer a new form of testing beginning in March for students in grades 3 through 11. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, also known as PARCC, assessments in reading and mathematics will be administered in two different windows this school year – March 2-27 and April 20-May 15.

Staring with this school year, PARCC assessments replace the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) exams in reading and math, and the High School Assessments (HSA) in English II and Algebra I. Students in grades 5 through 8 will still take the MSA exam in science in April, and high school students will still complete the HSA exams in Biology and Local, State and National (LSN) Government.

Sammy 08:13 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Point In Time Survey Press Conference

Date:  01/27/2015

Listen

Watch

Sammy 08:08 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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