Wednesday, October 05, 2011

My sincerest sympathy to his family, friends, employees and admirers and users of "Apple."

A sad reality that someone as vital as Steve Jobs is gone due to the lack of discovery of a cure for pancreatic cancer.  He'll be missed by those that loved him.  No human life should end in such tragedy.  

Yesterday I left off with the Jobs part of the Airport Reconstruction provision.

I want to continued with that because one of the aspects to that provision is APPRENTICESHIPS.  For some reason the Right Wing of the Republican Party believes President Obama hates apprenticeships.  So, to dispute that I think the bill reflects otherwise.  From what I understand the Senate has changed the way the bill is paid and will be voting on it shortly.  So, let's hope they do this and we have a boost in our economy soon.  

(11) JOB TRAINING.--Of the funds provided under this subsection, $50,000,000 shall be set aside for the development and administration of transportation training programs under section 140(b) title 23, United States Code.

(A) Funds set aside under this subsection shall be competitively awarded and used for the purpose of providing training, apprenticeship (including Registered Apprenticeship), skill development, and skill improvement programs, as well as summer transportation institutes and may be transferred to, or administered in partnership with, the Secretary of Labor and shall demonstrate to the Secretary of Transportation program outcomes, including—

(i) Impact on areas with transportation workforce shortages;

(ii) Diversity of training participants;

(iii) Number of participants obtaining certifications or credentials required for specific types of employment;

(iv) Employment outcome metrics, such as job placement and job retention rates, established in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and consistent with metrics used by programs under the Workforce Investment Act;

(v) To the extent practical, evidence that the program did not preclude workers that participate in training or apprenticeship activities under the program from being referred to, or hired on, projects funded under this chapter; and

(vi) Identification of areas of collaboration with the Department of Labor programs, including co-enrollment.

Now, I don't believe for one minute the lies of the Right Wing Media will stop, but, President Obama has made every effort to include Apprenticeships as a part of a 'quick' start up workforce.  What the lies today have told me is that the Right Wing Media does not read these bills at all.  They don't care to read these bills, they simply sniff the air and bloviate rhetoric that works for them to entice their audience.  An audience that wants to be entertained rather than informed.  

(12) DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS ENTERPRISES.--Of the funds provided under this subsection, $10,000,000 shall be set aside for training programs and assistance programs under section 140(c) of title 23, United States Code. Funds set aside under this paragraph should be allocated to businesses that have proven success in adding staff while effectively completing projects.

Cited Law:

23 USC 140 - Sec. 140. Nondiscrimination (click here)

(c) The Secretary, in cooperation with any other department or agency of the Government, State agency, authority, association, institution, Indian tribal government, corporation (profit or nonprofit), or any other organization or person, is authorized to develop, conduct, and administer training programs and assistance programs in connection with any program under this title in order that minority businesses may achieve proficiency to compete, on an equal basis, for contracts and subcontracts....

There is a small amount set aside for minority businesses with a proven track record of completing transportation projects while hiring employees.

The next part of The American Jobs Act refers to cities and urban areas.  There are specific US Codes for this purpose.  The codes involved in this section are established and are listed below:


23 USC 135 - Statewide transportation planning  (click here)

The codes that dominate the transportation sector are quite intricate when it comes to distribution of monies and how they are spent.  Transportation projects are usually huge projects requiring a lot of equipment and personnel.  Money can be lost in bookkeeping easily.  

As an example, I think about the last small paving project in the town where I live.  It was a local project and on a reasonably troublesome road where pot holes believed they were desired for little birds to take daily baths.  But, when I saw the effort required to pave the pot holes, level the road and paint on traffic lines; the project was huge.  It required a lot of personnel and a lot of equipment.  And that equipment was fairly dangerous to be around.  Large, heavy equipment with molten rock and tar coming out of it.  

So, the chance that monies appropriated by the Federal government to State governments and then onto local governments and then on to contractors or even town personnel is a lot of record keeping.  For that reason there are all kinds of stipulations on oversight and the President has stated as much here without overburdening the funding for the projects.

(15) OVERSIGHT.--The Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration may set aside up to 0.15 percent of the funds provided under this subsection to fund the oversight by the Administrator of projects and activities carried out with funds made available to the Federal Highway Administration in this Act, and such funds shall be available through September 30, 2015.

The next section is about new transportation that will help Americans move around the country without the burden of high fuel prices.  I really mean it when I envision a high speed rail service with capacity to carry automobiles of a reasonable size.  That service will prove not only invaluable to consumers that want a car at their next destination, but, it will save on fuel of any kind and actually be comfortable and fun.  The more the merrier.  Land transportation used by many people will be more modern and advance at a faster pace when the demand for it is greater.


I want to point to the fact High Speed Rail wasn't just a Democratic Dreamscape.  This project has been 'in the works' for some time.  It is President Obama seeking better transportation methods for Americans that has brought the project more front and center with improved funding.  This is the measure as it appeared in a bill from the 107th Congress.

1st Session

H. R. 2950
To provide for the financing of high-speed rail infrastructure, and for other purposes.


September 25, 2001

Mr. YOUNG of Alaska (Republican Legislator starting from 93rd Congress - click here) (for himself and Mr. QUINN) introduced the following bill;...

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.  (click here)

    This Act may be cited as the `Rail Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act for the 21st Century'.


    (a) AMENDMENT- Chapter 261 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`Sec. 26106. High-speed rail infrastructure bonds

That was a bill proposed in 2001 by an Alaskan Republican.  I just don't want to hear how this is some kind of left wing dreamscape.  Americans across the spectrum know the value of these high speed rail projects.

(2) AVAILABILITY.— The amounts made available under this subsection shall be available for obligation until the date that is two years after the date of the enactment of this Act. The Secretary shall obligate amounts totaling not less than 50 percent of the funds made available within one year of enactment and obligate remaining amounts not later than two years after enactment.

This is fairly new technology for the USA.  It is fairly new technology for the entire world for that matter, but, the venture into High Speed Rail with a larger priority is new to legislators.  For that reason, these projects in this bill are funded completely with federal dollars.  Very often infrastructure projects are funded 65% federal and 35% local monies.  It is clear the only funding necessary is the federal monies for these start up rail systems.  Not that the act precludes local or state monies and there is an indication private monies could be incorporated into the projects if there are sponsors to that effect.  

The other provisions provide assistance to  state and local governments in filing the application to be sure all the necessary aspects of the code are met with technologies that are dynamically new.

(5) INTERCITY PASSENGER RAIL CORRIDORS.--Not less than 85 percent of the funds provided under this subsection shall be for cooperative agreements that lead to the development of entire segments or phases of intercity or high-speed rail corridors.

The purpose of this bill is about building infrastructure that WORKS for the people of this nation.  It is not about building a segment out in the middle of the Midwest and then not having it connected to anything for a decade or more.  This rail system is to be funded for application to transportation of Americans.  The plans have to reflect that from the beginning of the funding and one might recall the corridors already reflecting intention for corridors that serve the people.  The most recent was a corridor from Detroit to Chicago which is hoped to allow greater employment for Michiganders.  

So far, this bill is about purpose, not simply spending.

With that provision in place there is this as well:


(B) A project need not be in a State rail plan developed under Chapter 227 of title 49, United States Code, to be eligible for assistance under this subsection.

Which means if old plans are not workable for High Speed Rail then develop new ones.  

The following is a provision for "Amtrak."


(3) PROJECT PRIORITY.-- The priority for the use of funds shall be given to projects for the repair, rehabilitation, or upgrade of railroad assets or infrastructure, and for capital projects that expand passenger rail capacity including the rehabilitation of rolling stock.

We are not abandoning Amtrak.  There is an existing High Speed Corridor already in operation with Amtrak between Washington, DC and Boston.  Maybe this is the rail that Vice President Biden road for so long.  But, the line is called "Acela Express" (click here)


(A) None of the funds under this subsection shall be used to subsidize the operating losses of Amtrak.

(B) The funds provided under this subsection shall be awarded not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

The other time lines apply the same as before.

(5) OVERSIGHT.--The Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration may set aside 0.5 percent of the funds provided under this subsection to fund the oversight by the Administrator of projects and activities carried out with funds made available in this subsection, and such funds shall be available through September 30, 2015.

Most everything else is structure similarly as before but the distribution is 80% to 10% to 10% and the funds are available to 2015.

There are also redistribution specifications as with every other aspect of the bill.  The monies are to be spent and are to be spent to help people return to work.

This provision explains the longer timeline:

(C) At the request of an urbanized area or State, the Secretary of Transportation may provide an extension of such 1-year period if the Secretary determines that the urbanized area or State has encountered an unworkable bidding environment or other extenuating circumstances. Before granting an extension, the Secretary shall notify in writing the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, providing a thorough justification for the extension.

Amtrak is already established in long stretches of urban landscape.  Those landscapes have to be accommodated for communities to remain undisturbed during the work, so, given local zoning regulations there might have to be an extended timeline for the work to be completed.

(C) The funds appropriated under this subsection shall not be comingled with any prior year funds.

There is also oversight.


(1) IN GENERAL.--There is made available to the Secretary of Transportation $6,000,000,000 for capital expenditures as authorized by sections 5309(b)(2) and (3) of title 49, United States Code.

Cited Law:

§ 5309. CAPITAL INVESTMENT GRANTS  (click here)

(b) General Authority.— The Secretary may make grants under this section to assist State and local governmental authorities in financing—

(2) capital projects to modernize existing fixed guideway systems;
(3) capital projects to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct bus-related facilities, including programs of bus and bus-related projects for assistance to subrecipients that are public agencies, private companies engaged in public transportation, or private nonprofit organizations; and

Here again there is the usual 100% funding, the distribution timeline and redistribution requirements and oversight.  I might mention at this point that nowhere in the bill thus far has any provision stated SPECIFICALLY what has to occur.  There are standards to be met for all the monies to be used, but, they are quality assurance standards.  The entire project conception is up to the people receiving the monies and their choice for their local communities and / or state projects.  Okay?  There is no dictator in the Oval Office with a blueprint for a rigid standard that will alter the culture or homogenize it.  After all the spending is done, the nation will have the same or perhaps even enhanced diversity of culture but people will be working again.

This is the middle of Page 34 and I will begin here tomorrow.  I am enjoying this read and I hope anyone that cares to read it also enjoys the information.

Next section:



Microsoft CEO's Bonus Below Maximum Allowed

Now, I want to know who 'does it better' Private Enterprise or the government.  In reading The American Jobs Act it was noted there was a LIMIT on administrative costs to any of the monies spent.  THAT would not be the case on Wall Street.

Can we please get over the fact that private enterprise does it better; it doesn't.  The government 'does it' just as well if not better than Wall Street.  Pinching pennies doesn't happen with Wall Street until it comes to producing the product, not administrative costs where bonuses are two times their annual salary.  They don't work for their salary, they exploit capitalism for their bonuses.  Last time I looked government doesn't give bonuses.  

When was Vermont the cutting edge on anything? They are now.

Vermont is taking on health care reform in a very measurable way. They will be setting policy for cost containment and providing every Vermont citizen with state of the art health care.

Green Mountain Care Board begins health care reform effort in earnest (click here)

...Dr. Allan Ramsay, a primary care physician at Fletcher Allen Health Care, will take the lead on payment reform, workforce development and outreach. Dr. Karen Hein, a pediatrician from Jacksonville, will focus on developing a benefits package and concept framework. Con Hogan, former secretary of the Vermont Agency of Human Services, will address hospital budget rules, data and evaluation. Al Gobeille, who owns several restaurants in Chittenden County, will look at benefit design programs and examine innovative prevention programs currently being implemented by the business community in Vermont and elsewhere....

The waivers the Secretary of Health and Human Services are approving are often for states that have more stringent laws than the national law.

…In order to actually enact the system, (click title to entry - thank you)  the state needs a waiver from the Affordable Care Act health reform law. Currently, the federal government will start handing out state waivers in 2017 — three years after Vermont wants to implement its system. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) hasintroduced an amendment that would move the waiver date up to 2014, an idea that President Obama has endorsed….

Williamsburg, Virginia is following a legal path to solvency. It is not being imposed by the Governor.

Does it cause controversy?  Does a bailout of any legal entity not controversial?

Justice Department okays Williamsburg bailout  (click here)

Exemption from Voting Rights Act makes precinct shift easier

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 10:08 AM EDT
Originally Published: Tuesday, October 04, 2011
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has filed a consent decree in U.S. District Court that will allow the City of Williamsburg a bailout from its status as a “covered jurisdiction” under special provisions of Voting Rights Act. 

If approved by the court, the city will be exempt from the preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the act. It could also serve as a test case for Virginia to seek exemptions for more localities.

Covered jurisdictions are required to seek pre-clearance for any changes in voting qualifications, standards, practices or procedures. A bailout can only be issued if the court determines that the jurisdiction meets certain eligibility requirements, including a 10-year record of nondiscrimination in voting-related actions.. 

Williamsburg filed its bailout action on Aug. 4 after contacting the attorney general's office.

“After close review, the department is now satisfied that the city is eligible for a bailout,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, in a press release.