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first_imgBy Donald WittkowskiA bitterly contested mayoral election, overshadowed by allegations of “toilet politics,” will come to a climax when voters go to the polls on Tuesday to choose between incumbent Mayor Jay Gillian and challenger John Flood for Ocean City’s top office.The race between Gillian and Flood pits two high-profile, experienced politicians who have been hammering each other with accusations of misconduct in the divisive final weeks of the campaign.Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.Gillian, who won election in 2010 and 2014, is seeking his third, four-year term as the city’s top elected official. Flood, a former member of City Council, is looking to make a comeback after a seven-year hiatus from politics.Meanwhile, the municipal election also includes three incumbent at-large City Council members who are facing no opposition in their race for new four-year terms.Keith Hartzell, who first joined Council in 2006 and is the longest-serving member, is seeking his fourth term.Peter Madden, who has served as Council president for the past two years, is running for his second term.Karen Bergman, the third Council incumbent, won election in 2016 to fill the unexpired term of former at-large Councilman Michael Allegretto, who resigned in 2015 to become the city’s director of Community Services.Bergman served as a Second Ward councilwoman from 2008 to 2012, but chose not to seek re-election in 2012. She returned to the governing body in 2015, when she was unanimously appointed by Council to temporarily fill Allegretto’s vacant seat leading up to the 2016 election.Hartzell, Madden and Bergman have said they believe the lack of opposition suggests that voters are satisfied with the direction the city is heading during their time on Council.Mayor Jay Gillian is asking voters to re-elect him so that he can continue the work he started on rebuilding the city’s aging infrastructure.Although the Council race has featured no drama, the mayoral campaign has grown nastier in recent weeks as Gillian and Flood have taken potshots at each other over a series of issues, including the construction of a city restroom project on the Boardwalk.Flood has repeatedly alleged that the large restroom project, which he estimates will cost upwards of $1 million, will benefit the mayor by drawing more customers to his business, the Gillian’s Wonderland Pier amusement park next door on the Boardwalk.In denying the accusations, Gillian has responded by criticizing Flood for engaging in “toilet politics.” Gillian said the restroom project was built at Sixth Street to serve a busy part of the Boardwalk, as well as the heavily used Ocean City High School athletic complex nearby.Flood has also accused Gillian of “diverting” city resources away from a critical flood-control system to instead concentrate on the public restroom project. Those allegations brought more denials from Gillian.In the final week of the campaign, Flood alleged that the mayor has been using a secret email domain that serves as his “private chat room” for city business, away from public scrutiny.In response, Gillian said the domain was created by an employee of the city’s outside IT consultant for official city business. Denying any secrecy, Gillian said copies of emails sent on the same domain may be obtained by the public in requests through the state Open Public Records Act.Mayoral candidate John Flood, a former city councilman, is looking to make a comeback in politics.During the campaign, Gillian has focused on his record of rebuilding the city’s aging infrastructure through a five-year, $100 million capital plan that includes an array of road, drainage and dredging projects.Gillian has asked voters to re-elect him to allow him to continue the work he has started, particularly with the city’s capital improvements.Flood favors modernizing the city’s infrastructure, but wants to see the capital plan done at a slower pace. He believes the city risks taking on too much debt and is vulnerable to tax increases unless the capital plan is slowed down.Both Gillian and Flood have been touting their experience in public office and the local business community during the campaign. They come from families that trace their roots in Ocean City back for generations. Both of them are lifelong residents.Gillian, 53, followed his father, former Ocean City Mayor Roy Gillian, into politics. He is the third generation of his family to own Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, the Boardwalk’s historic amusement park founded in 1929 by his grandfather, David.In interviews, Gillian has said his proudest moments as mayor include helping the city recover and rebuild from Hurricane Sandy’s devastating blow in 2012.The 65-year-old Flood served on Council from 1988 to 1996 and briefly returned to the governing body in 2011 when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of a former Council member.Flood’s grandparents came to the resort about 100 years ago. His grandfather, Emil Palmer, founded the former local Chevrolet dealership in 1933.A commercial real estate developer, Flood owns land concentrated around 16th Street and Haven Avenue, including the property where the former Chevrolet dealership was located. The CVS store on 16th Street, a car wash and professional offices are among his commercial tenants. Mayor Jay Gillian, left, and developer John Flood are disputing each other’s account of a key legal point about the city’s proposed purchase of a large tract of land.last_img read more

first_imgScottish bakery supplier Macphie has unveiled plans for an ambitious renewable energy plan that will involve cutting its carbon emissions by 2,000 tonnes a year.A new Macphie biomass plant – a massive 1.75 MW boiler fuelled by wood chips – will be the first large industrial biomass process steam plant in Scotland.The firm has made a £1.5m investment in the plant which will supply the heating at its Glenbervie site in the north of Scotland from March next year. It also received a grant from the Scottish Executive’s Scottish Biomass Support Scheme.Chief executive Alastair Macphie said the biomass plant was the first phase of a renewable energy plan that will involve cutting carbon emissions by 2,000 tonnes a year.”We calculated the feasibility of this plant when the oil price was at $65 a barrel, and expected a financial payback within five to six years. Now that oil prices are even higher it’s going to be an even better payback.”The company will turn to green energy sources to meet its fuel needs as it gears up to double the size of its business.Electrical usage has already been reduced by 20% over the last three years. The 600-800kVA of electricity it uses has been predicted to more than double to 1,500-2,000kVA by 2011. “We’ve looked for more sustainable ways of doing what we do because of our rural setting, and they are always the more cost-effective routes,” said Macphie.The new boiler will use 5,000 tonnes of locally sourced wood fuel per year to produce the steam demand for its factory on the 2,000-acre family-owned estate.last_img read more

first_imgA Tribe Called Quest turned the music world on its head when they recently announced they would be releasing their first new album of original tracks since 1998’s The Love Movement. What Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammed and Jarobi White put together after the unfortunate passing of founding member Phife Dawg earlier this year is We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service.The 16-track album features the “blueprint” of what the group was working on before Phife passed, along with guest spots from a slew of incredible talent including Busta Rhymes, André 3000, Jack White, Talib Kweli, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Consequence, and even Sir Elton John.Take a full listen to the album below:We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service Tracklist:Disc 101. The Space Program02. We The People…03. Whateva Will Be (feat. Consequence)04. Solid Wall of Sound (feat. Busta Rhymes and Elton John)05. Dis Generation (feat. Busta Rhymes)06. Kids… (feat. André 3000)07. Melatonin (feat. Jack White)08. EnoughDisc 209. Mobius (feat. Consequence and Busta Rhymes)10. Black Sposmadic (feat. Consequence)11. The Killing Season (feat. Talib Kweli and Consequence)12. Lost Somebody13. Movin Backwards (feat. Anderson .Paak)14. Conrad Tokyo (feat. Kendrick Lamar)15. Ego (feat. Jack White)16. The Donald (feat. Busta Rhymes)last_img read more

first_imgOn this Valentine’s Week, everyone’s attention is drawn to matters of the heart. As part of his work, lecturer Richard Weissbourd explores how schools can help better prepare young people for romantic relationships. In fact, he wrote about this topic last year with Rebecca Givens Rolland in the Harvard Education Letter article, “Learning About Love.”Soundbytes: Teaching loveIn this edition of the EdCast, Richard Weissbourd discusses whether love can be effectively taught in schools, reflects on the state of sex-ed, and examines where love is best modeled in the media.last_img read more

first_imgIt was one of those rides where we ran out of food, water, and legs, all in just 26 miles.It’s what happens when you try finding new trails that are “off the map.” All I can say, is that we were “Hinkered.” Ben Hinker has this beautiful way of making any ride turn epic with a simple suggestion followed by, “Whatever you guys think…” He wasn’t even on the ride this time and managed to “Hinker” us. No, no. He was sitting back somewhere with his feet up, having a beer while we suffered on an endless climb, cursing his name with every pedal stroke.Ok, so it wasn’t that bad, but he’s easy to rile, so that’s always part of the game. We relentlessly tease and blame him for our misery, only because we can never keep up with him. I think I’ve only ever out-climbed him once.The only reason I succeeded was because I had anger to fuel my pedal strokes. I was mad that he‘d quit riding bikes for several months. I still had to be in really good shape. Maybe it’s all of those commuter miles he had under his belt after being carless for seven years. The other part is how he just keeps frigging pedaling, no matter what.So there the three of us were, searching for the magical trail, which we’d passed miles back. We were looking for the second trail, because that’s what we swore he’d said. It wasn’t a steep climb, where you’d pretty immediately say, F*&% this, turning back. It was a slow, steady climb through brambles and tall grass. At one point I just lied down in the grass to watch the clouds pass. I should still be checking for ticks. I strategically saved my peanut butter and banana sandwich for a time that I needed it most, yet just 20 minutes later I couldn’t help but join the group fantasy about burgers. The funny thing is that by the time we hit civilization it was beer we poured into our bodies first – something to numb the legs.By the time we hit a somewhat downhill stretch of grassy road I was so tired that I couldn’t really make physical decisions or changes. I’m pretty certain that I was asleep on the handlebars when my front wheel sunk into a slight divet that normally would have resulted in me quickly leaning my weight over the back wheel to wheelie over it. This time, for some reason, I felt that sailing over the handlebars was a much simpler option. It was more like a pile drive into the soft dirt, twisting my nipple on the handlebar and taking the headset into the pubic bone, which was already severely bruised from a slow-speed wreck a week back. By now you think I’m a totally idiot, but I swear, I’m just klutzy when I’m tired or not paying attention… 1 2last_img read more

first_imgBy Julieta Pelcastre / Diálogo November 07, 2019 In late September, the Bolivian government, through its state-owned company Yacimientos de Litio, partnered with the Chinese company Xinjiang TBEA Group Baocheng to set up new lithium carbonate processing plants, now in the salt flats of Pastos Grandes and Coipasa, in Potosí and Oruro departments, with a $2.4 billion investment. According to the agreement, Bolivia will hold 51 percent of stocks and operations will start in 2021.“[We want to] help the industrialization of companies, such as the metallurgic and chemical industries to make Bolivia’s energy and industrial dream come true,” Chinese Ambassador to Bolivia Liang Yu told the press. “By 2025, China will need 800,000 tons of lithium per year.”The Chinese project includes the construction of five plants that will produce 146,000 annual tons of metallic lithium, lithium hydroxide, boric acid, pure bromide, and sodium bromide, as shown in a video of the Bolivian Ministry of Energies. Lithium, a fine, silver-white powder that can be found in brines (water with high salt concentrations), is used to make rechargeable batteries for electronic devices and electric vehicles, and in manufacturing ceramic, glass, and aluminum.“The partnership with China isn’t going to change Bolivia’s panorama. These kinds of agreements only have one-way benefits for the one who owns the technology; there are no economic-social gains for the population,” Daniel Pou, researcher at the Latin American Social Sciences Institute in the Dominican Republic, told Diálogo. “Lithium and bauxite reserves, the basis of new technologies, are places where we encounter China’s voracity to dominate the supply of these elements, as part of its global growth strategy.”Workers fill sacks with lithium carbonate at the state-owned lithium extraction complex at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. (Photo: Pablo Cozzaglio / AFP)“By [controlling] 63 percent of the battery market, China is the main consumer of lithium carbonate in the world,” Ingrid Garcés, a professor at the University of Antofagasta, Chile, told Chilean newspaper El Clarín. The Bolivian government said that the country has 21 million metric tons of the alkaline metal, which means that Bolivia might have the largest lithium reserve in the world.“The government should disclose the environmental impact studies of lithium exploitation,” said the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America (OCMAL, in Spanish) on its website. “Lithium mining has an inevitable social-environmental impact. Lithium extraction in the Andean salt lakes and in the salt flats of Uyuni, Atacama, and Hombre Muerto, among others, results in the use of toxic chemicals, soil and water salinization, air pollution, loss of biodiversity, and especially an imbalance in the regional hydrological system.”New products that require batteries come onto the market every year. From electric cars that travel hundreds of miles with just one charge to chainsaws as powerful as the gasoline-fueled versions. But this increase has raised concerns that the world’s sources of lithium, the heart of many new rechargeable batteries, might eventually run out, said OCMAL.“If the world wants a significant number of electric vehicles by 2030, it’s necessary to make lithium alternatives a top priority,” Pou concluded. “Batteries based on sodium or potassium, elements that are more commonly found around the planet, might have a longer life, cause less pollution, and cost less than lithium-based options; they are a better alternative.”last_img read more

first_img 4SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The member business lending market for credit unions is on the cusp of change, with revisions to National Credit Union Administration regulations (NCUA 12, CFR Part 723) slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2017. Among the most impactful changes are removing loan-to-value limits, lifting aggregate limits on construction and development lending, and giving credit unions discretion in determining the necessity of personal guarantees.According to Jim Devine, CEO of Hipereon Inc., Redmond, Wash., these changes level the playing field as credit unions go head to head with banks in a competitive, rate-driven environment. Devine leads CUES’ schools of business lending, including CUES Advanced School of Business Lending™: Commercial Real Estate Lending, slated for September in Santa Fe.“Credit unions have felt [they were in] a disadvantageous position because they couldn’t previously book loans without getting waivers for LTV issues and personal guarantees,” he says. “Now these two issues are going to be removed.”Even so, credit unions have begun to experience downward pressure on margins in the commercial real estate arena, driven by banks that have recovered from the recession and are offering refinance deals at highly aggressive rates. continue reading »last_img read more

first_img 3SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » Federal prosecutors allege a former mailroom employee of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Vystar Credit Union embezzled $5.4 million over 15 years.Duane Allen Sikes is scheduled to be arraigned on 10 felony counts of mail fraud and five felony counts of embezzlement of credit union funds in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville Tuesday.“Upon our discovery that a former employee had defrauded the company during his employment, VyStar immediately conducted a more comprehensive internal review, reported the matter to authorities and is cooperating fully with their investigation,” VyStar said in a prepared statement.“Importantly, this isolated incident did not in any way compromise member personal information or accounts, and is immaterial to the company’s financials. VyStar does not tolerate behavior that is contrary to our culture and high ethical values, and has taken immediate action to address the situation and even further enhance our internal processes.”last_img read more

first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Keren Moynihan Former banker & 2nd time founder, Boss Insights’ CEO Keren Moynihan provides Business Data as a Service closing gaps between lenders and borrowers with easy access to business data. Banks … Web: Details Credit unions are challenged to facilitate business loans quickly with limited information. It’s a high stakes activity with limited upside and significant downside risk. Digitization would address a lot of the issues including streamlining manual form collection, decisioning and monitoring, and give credit unions an easy way to gather information on business members. But with so many things to update, it has never been the first priority. Only the earliest adopters are using Application Programing Interfaces (APIs) to gather business information through a pipeline automatically, as opposed to a form or portal for manual processing.  The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) changed everything. It is a different type of lending process. Typically, loans consider whether businesses have enough money to pay back the cost of the loan. PPP however is effectively a grant, seeking to stimulate the economy by covering the cost of employees during this unprecedented time. The legislation was passed quickly, in weeks instead of years. As a result, implementation was not without its challenges. It was confusing and judging by the court of social media there were many businesses who didn’t get funded and among the others who did, many felt pressured to return the funds. PPP was different for a lot of reasons, but probably most famously for the 11-page forgiveness calculation form which was so convoluted that it was compared to filing taxes and inspired endless memes on twitter of animals throwing computers against walls.Me trying to secure an SBA small business loan #PPPLoan #PPPFail— Robert Ferrari (@BrandMoxi) April 28, 2020Suddenly, lenders had to provide a process for a loan that never existed before. This brought about unforeseen—and welcome—collaboration between credit unions and tech platforms to automate the process. Even here, however, there was a spectrum of technical capability that credit unions had to choose from. They could simply put more lending officers to work, they could adopt technology that helped gather forms and manually process them, they could use something called Robotic Process Automation (RPA) which used robots to automate the manual  process and finally they had APIs which would gather information and calculate it automatically.Data in the past has been unstructured and difficult to access, but APIs act as a pipeline carrying data in a usable way, eliminating the need for resource-hungry manual processes. With respect to lending, with just a few clicks APIs replace the need to gather financials, calculate them and monitor them. Even so, many in the industry opted for manual calculation, file management systems or RPAs. Think  of APIs as a pipeline carrying data instead of water.  These processes are akin to either walking to a well or using a robot to go to a well to get water instead of turning on the tap and having it flow freely using APIs. $9.6 billion in PPP loans have been disbursed through credit unions, but it was not an easy process. Credit unions that relied on manual processes struggled to approve businesses in a timely fashion.  Paperwork, time and technology investments were substantial. NAFCU’s EVP and General Counsel Carrie Hunt and staff spent weekends attempting to work through PPP issues including the cumbersome E-tran portal, pages of confusing paperwork, and the sheer volume of loans and the time it took to process them.Digitization Grows MembershipPPP offered support to over four million businesses in a few short months. That was exceptional. However, there was a huge opportunity missed when it came to supporting new businesses. Attracting new membership is the number one goal for credit unions going into 2020 and digitization makes it possible. 81% of credit unions believe that partnering with Fintech companies to deliver seamless solutions is a means to improve member experience. Credit unions are beginning to excel over their counterparts in the area of digitization, but there remains room for improvement. 29% of credit unions already have partnerships with fintechs in the area of credit and lending, but the partnerships are limited in scope. It’s felt by business members and credit union employees and customer delight is a goal that seems forever just out of reach. With the urgency to process PPP loans quickly, existing customers were prioritized over new ones. With existing customers, Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance measures are already in place. With legacy systems, it was impossible to gather enough information on new businesses and lenders who adopted API technology were more than happy to fill the void. Square saw 76,000 new customers with $820 million dollars in PPP loans processed. Credit unions that could have realized this capability would have provided business member delight and experienced new growth. Had credit unions been open to adopting technology available to them earlier in the last decade, they would have been in the position to dominate the industry.  Customer Expectations are Driving Digitization As a result of the manual approach, there’s been a lot of questions about PPP, a program that should be praised for offering $659 billion dollars into the market.  The real question is “are the lessons from PPP enough to inspire Credit Unions to digitize?”  Shopify CEO, Tobi Lütke states, “We are experiencing 2030 [digitization] in 2020”. Credit unions are faced with a current reality too big to ignore: APIs don’t just automate the core, they offer access to business member information and the ability to serve them in real time, bringing about delight. PPP is soon coming to a close, and in its wake customer expectations have never been higher. Social distancing has caused business members to seek services online and thanks to tech giants such as Amazon, there is a certain expectation for personalization. Meanwhile, most business customers report they would share their data for more convenience and tailored services. The industry will never be the same again. PPP accelerated the digitization process for credit unions kickstarting the rapid adoption of fintech solutions. Credit unions are fast adopters and have a history of differentiating themselves from other FIs by emphasizing their community focus and personalized member services. They offer more than the players who saw new customer adoption because they are full service and member first. It is exciting, and only time will tell if credit unions adopt the tech that is waiting for them. Digitization is more than taking a paper form and making it electronic, it’s a fundamental shift from manual calculator to utilizing technology to manage the manual.  APIs to business software make this possible. Let us take the next step to true automation in partnership together. last_img read more

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