January 1

Vermont state workers’ union loses court case over layoffs

first_imgA Chittenden County Superior Court judge denied today a Vermont State Employees Association request for a restraining order against the Douglas Administration. The state workers’ union sought the order against the administration to stop it from laying off more than 120 state employees, approximately 100 of whom were scheduled to begin departing state government today.In a written statement, VSEA Director Jes Kraus said: “Our heart goes out to the hundred employees who are being, in our views, unnecessarily forced out the jobs that they work so hard at. VSEA will continue pursuing every option available to us in our efforts to avoid more senseless layoffs.” In any case, the administration maintains that it has the right to layoff workers, as it always has, and will go ahead with its plan to do so. It expects the action to save about $13 million through this job action in the coming fiscal year. VSEA s complaint asserted that the layoffs violate the Appropriations Act, which went into effect June 2 over Governor Douglas’ veto. The Act specifically prohibits the administration from proceeding with layoffs unless they are first submitted as part of a plan that is vetted and approved by the Legislature s Joint Fiscal Committee. However, a companion bill passed Wednesday to the Act (the state budget) somewhat changed the language of that section. Attorney General Sorrell had offered an opinion to legislative leaders suggesting the language might be unconstitutional, which is a point Governor Douglas previously had made. Also at issue is that the state budget technically does not kick in until the start of the new fiscal year July 1, calling into question whether the layoff language, right or wrong, can even be applied during the current fiscal year. Nor has the governor signed nor vetoed the companion bill.center_img In an effort to not have to file this lawsuit, VSEA did send a letter to Secretary Lunderville on Tuesday, asking the administration to rescind the RIFs, but we never heard back, said VSEA Director Kraus. That silence forced VSEA to take the action we will tomorrow (Thursday), as we believe the Legislature s veto override means the governor must now follow the law, whether he approves or not.last_img read more

January 1

Rae Ann Knopf appointed Vermont Deputy Commissioner of Education

first_imgRae Ann Knopf of St Johnsbury was confirmed as Vermont’s Deputy Commissioner of Education by the State Board of Education in a special meeting today. Knopf, who most recently served as the Assistant Director for Student Support and Safe and Healthy Schools, also serves as the department’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) coordinator.“We on the State Board of Education are excited about Rae Ann Knopf’s appointment as Deputy Commissioner,” said Board Chair Fayneese Miller. “I have had the pleasure of watching her expertly steward the department and our education partners through the complexities of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I personally look forward to working with her and the commissioner as we continue our work on the transformation of education in Vermont. ”Rae Ann Knopf has worked nationally over the last 26 years to establish learning communities where young people can thrive and realize their true potential. She uses her experience as a school administrator, clinical director, corporate executive and organizational development specialist to lead statewide efforts to continue strengthening Vermont’s educational system by implementing tiered systems of support and intervention for academics and behavior.Prior to joining the department, she has shown a career-long commitment to students in need in a whole range of educational settings, including serving as the Executive Director, Founder and Head of Bromley Brook Secondary School for the Aspen Education Group in Cerritos, CA; as the Vice President of Private Education Operations, and as the Interim Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, of CEDU Family of Services for the Brown Schools of Boston. Prior to that, she served several years at VisionQuest National LTD in Arizona, a national organization providing treatment to adolescents with severe emotional and behavior difficulties. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Statistics from Western Michigan University, and her Master of Social Work in Social Policy and Organizational Development from the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Knopf most recently founded an academically rigorous residential secondary school in Manchester, Vermont for girls facing significant personal and emotional challenge. “The appointment of Rae Ann Knopf as the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Transformation and Innovation will greatly benefit the children of our state,” said Commissioner Vilaseca. “She has demonstrated leadership in innovative school practices prior to her arrival at the department.  Her diverse experience in the private sector and non-profit private schools brings a different perspective to this role and compliments my experience in public schools. Her work with schools has had a positive impact on students and has helped provide schools with systems that support all students reaching their potential. She is respected both within and outside of our department and I look forward to working with her and the benefits she will bring to Vermont schools. ”Knopf’s duties as the next in command under Commissioner Armando Vilaseca will include, but are not limited to, overseeing the programmatic divisions of the department, which encompass Student Support and Safe and Healthy Schools, Lifelong Learning, Standards and Assessment, Educator Quality, and Independent and Federal Programs. She will also play a critical leadership role in the department regarding the Transformation of Education effort, State Board work and advising Commissioner Vilaseca on policy matters. She will continue her role as the ARRA coordinator for the department.“These are both challenging and exciting times for education in Vermont,” says Knopf. “Challenging because the current economic realities force us to constantly reassess our priorities. Exciting because our understanding of how children learn and accessibility to global educational resources increases exponentially every year. I look forward to working with Commissioner Vilaseca, the department staff, and educators across the state to put our collective knowledge to use in helping each child in Vermont to thrive and recognize their true potential.”Knopf will begin serving as deputy commissioner on October 11. Source: Vermont Dept of Education. 10.8.2009last_img read more

December 30

West Virginia Ski Package Giveaway

first_imgENTER TO WIN AN AMAZING SKI PACKAGE GIVEAWAY FROM ONE OF THREE WEST VIRGINIA RESORTSSNOWSHOE: TWO NIGHTS’ LODGING TWO-DAY SKI PASSES AND RENTALSTIMBERLINE: ONE NIGHT’S LODGING TWO-DAY SKI PASSES FOR TWOWINTERPLACE: TWO-DAY SKI PASSES AND RENTALS FOR TWORUNNERS UP: FOUR WINNERS WILL RECEIVE A $50 GIFT CARD TO THE SKI BARN[contact-form-7 404 “Not Found”]Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on December 31, 2015. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before December 31, 6:00 PM EST 2015. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.last_img read more

December 20

Colombia, New Target of Russian Disinformation

first_imgBy Gustavo Arias Retana / Diálogo April 09, 2020 In December 2019, Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez told the press that Colombia was suffering a wave of disinformation attacks from Russia and Venezuela. Ramírez said that social media trolls (people who disrupt online communities) encouraged violent protests, in an attempt to destabilize Iván Duque’s government.These complaints coincide with a report from the U.S. Department of State that The New York Times disclosed on January 20. The report confirmed that Colombia is one of the main targets of Russian disinformation in the region, and that the Kremlin seeks to “sow confusion” through social media.“Russia’s interest is to breed distrust among the democratic governments in the western world, and Latin America is no exception. Since Vladimir Putin took office as president, Russia has embarked on a large and surprisingly effective campaign to expand its outreach in our region,” Hugo San Martín, an expert in strategic studies and international security at the University of Granada, Spain, told Diálogo. “In the case of Colombia, the proximity to one of its regional partners, Venezuela, encourages Moscow to take aggressive measures.”Colombia’s strategic position in Latin America is another reason for the country to become a target of Russian disinformation attacks. “Colombia is a power with a dual role: It is the only South American country with coasts off the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Plus, it has influence in Central America,” Carlos Murillo, an expert in international relations at the University of Costa Rica, told Diálogo. “This puts Bogotá in a favorable position. Moscow knows that and needs to have a larger presence.”Both San Martín and Murillo said that the main Russian activities detected have to do with the dissemination of fake news, generated for the region by Russian disinformation networks.“There is evidence published that the Russian media, reinforced by bots [programs that simulate human behavior] and fake accounts on social media, carry out deception campaigns, advance the Kremlin’s agenda, and act as key actors in disinformation operations,” Murillo added.RecurrencesThis phenomenon is not limited to Colombia, but it extends to other nations in the region. “Disinformation is an asymmetrical and indirect military method that Russia uses in different countries. It is one of the main instruments of Russian strategy for political influence, which it executes through conventional mass media and social media. The defense of Bolivia’s electoral fraud, and the attacks against the democratic governments of Ecuador and Chile are evidence of Russian influence,” said San Martín.“Analyzing the images and footage of protesters in those countries, we can see that they mobilize in groups, with military skills, using protection and tubes to throw projectiles at the police, similar to those used in some Colombian cities in previous months. Hatred is injected in society, and [the Russians] wait for the right moment to make it blow up,” San Martín concluded. “Russia sees influence operations as normal business, because they use them inside the country to repress dissidence and control different thinking. It is not only political, but also digital authoritarianism.”last_img read more

September 24

#Djokovid: tennis star mauled over coronavirus ‘horror show’

first_img However, criticism was swift and heavy, with many voicing concerns over attempts to restart professional tournaments in August, including the US Open Grand Slam is which is scheduled to begin on August 31. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive after taking part in the Adria Tour, where players embraced across the net, played basketball and even danced in a nightclub. “I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” Djokovic, 33, said in a statement. His wife Jelena also tested positive after attending the “philanthropic” tour in the once war-torn Balkans. World number Novak Djokovic tests positive to COVID-19 along with other players during an exhibition tournament in Zadar, Croatia.As the mocking hashtag #Djokovid circulated online, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, so often in the crosshairs for his own on-court indiscretions, said the incident was pure “stupidity”.“Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake,” tweeted the world number 40.Britain’s Andy Murray, a three-time Grand Slam winner who has known Djokovic since their junior days, said: “I don’t think it has been a great look for tennis.”Australia’s Nick Kyrgios was one of the players to criticise Djokovic“In hindsight, it’s not something that should have gone ahead,” Murray told reporters.“It’s not surprising how many people have tested positive after seeing some of the images of the players’ party and the kids’ day. There was no social distancing in place.“Some people have said maybe this has put the US Open in doubt –- which it may well do. But the measures and the protocols they have in place at the USTA (United States Tennis Association) are different to Serbia and Croatia. No fans for a start.”– PR disaster –Djokovic is unbeaten this year, a run that includes winning his 17th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, but COVID-19 has been a public relations disaster for the eccentric Serb.Social distancing was minimal at Adria Tour eventsEven before the Adria Tour, he was criticised for breaking lockdown rules to train in Spain, and he then raised eyebrows by insisting he wouldn’t be prepared to vaccinate against the coronavirus.Djokovic also described limits on players’ entourages at the US Open as “extreme” and “impossible”, again putting him at odds with much of public opinion.His latest misstep has caused some to question his presidency of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals, or men’s tour) Player Council, which advises the ATP board.Tennis has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions because it is a global circuit with players from all over the world.“I think there’s a lot of his peer group who are scratching their heads,” celebrated coach Paul Annacone told Tennis.com.Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, both tested positive“I was totally anxiety-ridden and very disappointed because the restart, or the reimagining of how we can start (tennis) is just about eight weeks away. And with all these opportunities to try to start in a progression, to me, it felt like they skipped about 15 steps.”Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, tweeted: “Yikes… this is not good and it’s a pattern… What now, US Open? Roland Garros? We have a lot of work to do.”Read Also: Video: Messi lucky to escape red card during Barca vs Athletic clubBrazil’s Bruno Soares, a doubles player who sits on the Player Council, called the Adria Tour a “horror show”, while ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said it was a lesson for other tournaments.“It’s a little bit like when you tell your kids when they try to learn to ride the bike to wear the helmet,” Gaudenzi said. “It’s ‘no, no, no’.”“And they ride the bike, they fall, and then they wear the helmet.”FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 World number one Novak Djokovic was widely condemned on Wednesday for hosting a tennis exhibition where he was one of four players to test positive for the coronavirus, a lapse that sent shudders through a sport struggling to get back on its feet. Novak Djokovic apologised for organising the Adria Tour tennis exhibition series The Serbian star said he was “deeply sorry” in an unstinting apology for the now-cancelled Adria Tour, where social distancing was minimal and matches were played in front of thousands of fans.Advertisementcenter_img Loading…last_img read more

September 23

Clay County, Fairmont dates are next for IMCA Dirt Knights

first_imgAlso running are IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars for $1,200 to win, IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks and Karl Kustoms Northern SportMods both for $800 to win and Mach-1 Sport Compacts for $300 to win. SPENCER, Iowa (Aug. 2) – IMCA Modifieds will be on the road to Clay County Fair Speedway for round six of the Arnold Motor Supply Dirt Knights Tour. Grandstand admission is $15 for adults, $12 for students ages 13-17 and kids 12 and under are free when accompanying a paid adult. Pit passes are $30 Pit gates open at 3 p.m. and the grandstand opens at 5 p.m. Hot laps are at 6:30 p.m. with racing to follow. The Monday, Aug. 5 feature pays $1,500 to win and is a qualifying event for the Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot. Sunday’s The Knight Before program at Spencer is also sponsored by Hahn Roofing and boasts a $1,500 to win, All-Star ballot qualifying feature for the Modifieds. Arnold Motor Supply Dirt Knights Tour top 20 point standings – 1. Richie Gustin, Gilman 198; 2. Joel Rust, Grundy Center, 174; 3. Kelly Shryock, Fertile, 160; 4. Kyle Brown, Madrid, 141; 5. Kollin Hibdon, Pahrump, Nev., 139; 6. Cody Laney, Torrance, Calif., 136; 7. Corey Dripps, Rein­beck, 130; 8. Brock Bauman, Eureka, Ill., 111; 9. Al Hejna, Clear Lake, 106; 10. Chris Abel­son, Sioux City, 101; 11. Ethan Dotson, Bakersfield, Calif., 95; 12. Travis Hatcher, Honey Creek, 88; 13. Cody Bauman, Eureka, Ill., 87; 14. Jeremy Mills, Britt, 77; 15. Josh Most, Red Oak, 73; 16. Al Bohlman, Isanti, Minn., 72; 17. Ricky Thornton Jr., Adel, and Ryan Ruter, Clear Lake, both 70; 19. Derrick Stewart, Ainsworth, 69; 20. Austin Wolf, Algona, 68. The Bob Shryock Memorial feature for Modifieds totes a $1,500 top check and an All-Star ballot berth. Stock Cars, Hobby Stocks, Northern SportMods and Sport Compacts complete the card. Pit gates open at 4 p.m. and the grandstand opens at 6 p.m. at Spencer, hometown of series title sponsor Arnold Motor Supply. Hot laps are at 7 p.m. with racing to follow. Grandstand admission is $15 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under. Pit passes are $30 for adults and $15 for minors.   Both the Spencer and Fairmont Dirt Tour programs will be broadcast by IMCA.TV. Dirt Knights history will be made on Wednesday, Aug. 7 when the 10th annual tour travels to Fairmont Race­way for its first event in Minnesota.last_img read more

August 13

UPDATED STORY — Upmeyer stepping down as speaker of Iowa House

first_imgDES MOINES — The first female speaker of the Iowa House is stepping down.“It’s been a huge privilege and honor to do the job, whether you’re male or female, but I’m particularly I guess touched and privileged that I got to be the first woman to do it,” House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake told reporters this afternoon during a news conference on the House floor.Upmeyer will serve out the last 14 months of her current term in the Iowa House, but she told her Republican colleagues earlier today that they should choose a new speaker to take over in January when the 2020 legislature convenes.“The last few years I’ve known the end was in sight. You know, I wasn’t sure exactly when, but I knew I was getting ready to spend more time with family, do other things,” Upmeyer said. “and it just became a really sharp contrast this spring and summer when the family was here that that’s what I needed to do.”Upmeyer, who is 67 years old, told reporters she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren who live in the Des Moines area and Washington state.“And my husband will appreciate having me around a little more, I think. We’ll find out, I guess,” Upmeyer said, laughing.Upmeyer, though, indicated she’ll help other GOP candidates run for office and might take another job in politics, if one materializes.“You never when an amazing opportunity and something you’re really interested in doing comes up and I would never rule that out,” Upmeyer said, “but for right now, I’m going to take an opportunity to go visit some family and go do some things.”Upmeyer, who lives in Iowa’s fourth congressional district, did say she will not run in the GOP primary against Congressman Steve King.Upmeyer told reporters she has no regrets about her tenure in the legislature.“You know people ask you when you start in the legislature and after you’ve served a few years: ‘How long are you going to stay? How long do you think you’ll be around?’ And I can remember when I was elected and I saw people that were here like 10 years and I thought: ‘Wow, 10 years here. Are you kidding me?’ Well, here I am,” Upmeyer said. “I’m at 17 and it will be 18 (years).”Upmeyer will turn over responsibility for the House elections in 2020 to her successor. It’s what happened to Upmeyer in November of 2015 when House Speaker Kraig Paulsen stepped down mid-term and Upmeyer became speaker-elect. Upmeyer said it let her guide the legislative record the House GOP would run on and, as speaker, she was better able to raise money for the campaign.“All of those things I found helpful, so I think that was a good thing to do for my successor,” Upmeyer said, “and I can still help in the background, in the wings and maybe kind of double-down on the opportunity.”House Republicans will meet in the next seven to 10 days to choose Upmeyer’s successor and that person will have the title of Speaker-elect until January when the full House elects its speaker.Upmeyer’s father, Del Stromer, was a long-time lawmaker who served as speaker of the House for two years, in 1981 and 1982. Upmeyer currently serves House District 54, which includes Clear Lake, the western third of Cerro Gordo County, all of Franklin County, and the northern and western portions of Butler County.last_img read more