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Why the Pasadena teacher’s union may vote to strike (Pasadena Star News - link): The Union Teachers of Pasadena said they are still not satisfied with Pasadena Unified School District’s final offer proposed last Friday, which could possibly lead to a strike vote by the group.
Union president Alvin Nash said they were surprised the district publicly announced the offer since the groups are not on the bargaining table anymore. The two have been at an impasse since last October and are preparing for a fact-finding hearing on May 4 after no agreement was reached through mediation.
The group said the proposed possible increase the district is offering for 2015-16 and 2016-17 is not enough, and is actually less than the district was offering before going to mediation. “They offered us a 1.3 percent one time bonus, we were asking for 2 percent for last year,” said Nash. “This year they offered 3 percent and we want a guaranteed 6 percent.”
Nash said the district has received more money in the last two years but it is not being seen in the classrooms with supplies, resources or more staff at the school level. “If the district wants to say they don’t have money, then what did they do with it?” said Nash.
Superintendent Brian McDonald said the district has received one-time funds over the last two years and targeted funds for students that are foster youth, English learners, and on free and reduced lunch. “We only have limited amount of resources to apply to raises,” he said. “The conventional wisdom is you don’t spend one-time funds on ongoing raises.”
(Mod: With nearly 60% of the PUSD's teachers receiving over $107,000.00 in total compensation, there are only two parties that you can feel sorry for - the taxpayers and their hostage kids.)
House faults two members for ethics lapses, clears two (USA Today - link): The House Ethics Committee resolved a batch of old ethics cases against lawmakers Thursday, issuing official rebukes of Reps. Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., but exonerating Reps. Tom Petri, R-Wis., and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.
The committee issued its reports in the cases as Congress prepared to adjourn. None of the lawmakers will face further action, and Gingrey and Petri are leaving office.
In Chu's case, the committee reported that some of her staff were involved in preparations for a 2011 campaign fundraiser while on official time — a violation of the rule against mixing campaign and congressional resources. The committee concluded that Chu did not know about this violation, but after the investigation began, she wrote an e-mail to staff that appeared to be steering the answers to the Ethics Committee. Chu then failed to produce this e-mail to the committee on several initial requests.
The committee said Chu expressed regret for this behavior, but it still decided to issue a "letter of reproval" and close the case.
(Mod: Of course Judy Chu will still get re-elected this fall. Since when have ethics had anything with government representation in this part of the country?)
Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist (Phys Org - link): Eminent Australian scientist Professor Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, predicts humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change.
Fenner, who is emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, said homo sapiens will not be able to survive the population explosion and “unbridled consumption,” and will become extinct, perhaps within a century, along with many other species. United Nations official figures from last year estimate the human population is 6.8 billion, and is predicted to pass seven billion next year.
Fenner told The Australian he tries not to express his pessimism because people are trying to do something, but keep putting it off. He said he believes the situation is irreversible, and it is too late because the effects we have had on Earth since industrialization (a period now known to scientists unofficially as the Anthropocene) rivals any effects of ice ages or comet impacts.
(Mod: This is going to kill the real estate market and hurt Judy Chu's re-election prospects. It will also make recruiting new members to the SMPD even more difficult than it is now.)
Fears of 'THE BIG ONE' as SEVEN major earthquakes strike Pacific region in just 96 hours (The Daily Express - link): At least 350 people have been killed in Ecuador’s biggest earthquake in decades as a 7.8 magnitude quake struck off the Pacific coast on Saturday and was felt around the Andean nation of 16 million people, causing panic as far away as the highland capital Quito.
Vice President Jorge Glas said as well as leaving hundreds dead, more than 2,500 people were injured.
The latest quake follows devastating tremors in Japan late last week when one, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, injured more than 1,000 trapping people in collapsed buildings only a day after a quake killed nine people in the same region.
Rescue crews searched for survivors of a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck Japan's Kyushu Island, the same region rattled by a 6.2 quake two days earlier.
Around 20,000 troops have had to be deployed following the latest 7.3 earthquake at 1.25am local time on Saturday.
Roads have also been damaged and big landslides have been reported, there are also 200,000 households without power.
The death toll in the latest Kyushu earthquake is 16 people and a previous earthquake that struck the area on Thursday had killed nine people.
(Mod: You'd hope the Big One everyone fears will hold off until we're extinct.)
How Sierra Madre’s election results impact the future of its police department (Pasadena Star News - link): The 100-year-old Sierra Madre Police Department is breathing a sigh of relief after Tuesday’s election.
Unconfirmed results show about 72 percent of voters supported increasing the city’s Utility Users Tax to 10 percent rather than letting it drop to 6 percent in July.
That boost will keep the city from moving forward on major budget cuts to city services that would have included public safety. A reduced UUT would have created a projected $1 million shortfall, according to city officials.
“The staff is very ecstatic about the election results,” said Police Chief Larry Giannone. “They have a positive outlook.” Giannone said officers with the department now feel more at ease now and see the measure’s passage as support from the community.
About half of the officers, 20 in all, on the city’s police force resigned last year, citing concerns over job security and the possibility of budget cuts because of the UUT’s impending sunset. The city had to contract temporarily with the Sheriff’s Department to help fill the void until the department could hire more officers and get back to full staffing levels again.
“We’re moving full steam ahead,” said Giannone about hiring and recruiting new officers.
Giannone said it would take until August to train enough officers to fill out the police department to its previous staffing levels. But despite the reduced force, Giannone said he would see the effect of having even training officers out on the street as a positive for the city.
(Mod: So sometime around August the SMPD will put ten green 22-year-old baby cops on the streets and claim that everything is good again. This in place of the on average 7 year veteran Sheriff's deputies that the city could have for less money. I'm sorry, but it is time we begin contemplating the childlike simplicity of the average Sierra Madre resident.)
San Diego Residents Find Turf Rebates Are Taxable (KPBS - link): Some San Diegans who got money from the San Diego County Water Authority for taking out their grass last year are now startled to find they owe taxes on those turf rebates.
And some homeowners only received those notifications a few weeks ago, after they had already filed their taxes. One of them is Allied Gardens resident Joey Davis.
"So we had to do an amendment," he said. Davis said he didn't know the rebate would be taxable.
"There's a lot of things you do on their website to get the rebate. There's a lot of things you have to go through, so I would have definitely noticed something like that and scaled down my project a little bit," he said.
A water authority spokesman pointed out the website does say under its terms and conditions that “Rebates may be considered taxable income."
"Any applicable taxes are the sole responsibility of the Participant," the website says. "Participants are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax professionals regarding any potential tax liability that may arise from participation in the Program."
(Mod: Did you get a turf rebate lately? Have you spoken to your tax accountant about it?)
No, the Moon Won't Turn Green on Wednesday (Space.com - link): Once again, a skywatching hoax has gone viral.
To go along with the infamous "Mars hoax," which claims that the Red Planet will appear as large as the full moon in the sky; the "Nibiru cataclysm," a supposed disastrous encounter between Earth and a large planetary object; and "Zero-Gravity Day," when people on Earth supposedly can experience weightlessness, we now have the "nights of the green moon."
This latest fallacy to sweep the blogosphere claims that on Wednesday (April 20), and again on May 29, the moon will appear to turn a shade of green. The full moon of April will occur on Friday, April 22.
The explanation given for the verdant metamorphosis is that several planets are going to align (wrong!), causing the moon to glow with an eerie, greenish light for about 90 minutes. This spectacle is exceedingly rare (so we are told), and last took place way back in the year 1596.
As has been the case with the bogus Mars, Nibiru and zero-gravity hoaxes, the green-moon message implores you to "share this event!" And sadly, many people have apparently been snookered into doing just that.
(Mod: For those who are interested there will be a "Green Moon Watch" held tomorrow evening on the roof of Sierra Madre City Hall. Be sure to call the city and reserve your seat. Tickets are also available at the Library, the Mountain Views News and from the Yes On Measure UUT website.)