WE HAVE MANAGED TO SOFTEN THE GUN CONTROL BILL SO AS TO MAKE IT LESS CRIMINALIZING, WE HEAR MEDIA SPEAK OF THE DEBT LEVEL AS REGARDS THE SCHOOL BUILDING SCHEME AND THE MAYOR'S DELIBERATE ATTEMPTS TO STARVE THE CITY COFFERS WITH DEVELOPMENT DEALS.
BALTIMORE GOVERNMENT IS A FAUSTIAN MINEFIELD!!!
I appreciate WYPR's subtle reference to copious municipal debt as a reason not to do the Baltimore school building financing although if you would actually explain the state of the economy people would be shouting out against this plan.
Europe is in such dire financial straits because it was the victim of two financial frauds: the subprime mortgage fraud and a sovereign debt fraud perpetrated by Wall Street and Germany's Deutsche Bank. Americans know we experienced the same subprime loan fraud and now our current politicians like Rawlings-Blake, Ulman, and O'Malley want us to understand the sovereign debt fraud.....but later, after it happens. So, the banks went to European nations and made deals with the finance ministers and pols to sign on to what would be ever increasing debt. They created complex financial instruments to hide the nation's current debt so as to allow it to take ever more debt. This was then moved to the 1% of the countries through development companies just as they are doing here in America. Building explosions on projects nobody needed or wanted transferred the debt to the public sector and the money into the pockets of the rich. SOUND FAMILIAR? These finance ministers and pols knew they were imploding these nations with debt so this is all fraud and aiding and abetting. The reasons were twofold.....moving massive amounts of money to the 1% and creating so much public debt as to force the deconstruction and privatization of all public assets. That is what they are trying to do now in Europe as well as the US. Well, now it is America's turn at sovereign debt fraud as our finance ministers....the General Assembly/Governor and the Baltimore City Council/Mayor do their best to place debt upon debt and mortgage the future for decades with these business tax break agreements.....and a $2.4 billion school building scheme. Remember, government at all level has been saturated with debt as suspension of Rule of Law fails to bring back trillions of dollars in fraud. The Federal Reserve and Wall Street are setting the stage for implosion as the Fed buys billions of dollars in bonds to inflate the bond market and Wall Street loads the market with all kinds of European sovereign debt bonds knowing a collapse is about to happen. Indeed, traders are calling the bond market the same 'House of Cards' the subprime loan market was in 2006.
So, why are your politicians loading us with ever more municipal debt knowing this is happening? It isn't a secret and it has been happening these few years.......IT IS BECAUSE THEY ARE WORKING TO PRIVATIZE ALL THAT IS PUBLIC THROUGH GOVERNMENT DEBT.
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!
THESE THIRD WAY POLITICIANS ARE SO CORRUPT THAT THEY LOOK LIKE A CONTEMPORARY VERSION OF 'FAUST'......AS GEITHNER FAMOUSLY SAID TO THE GRADUATING HOPKINS STUDENTS.....'THEY WILL SAY YOU ARE BAD......JUST IGNORE THEM'!
Below you see the same mayor, Rawlings-Blake speaking of financial doom, although hyperbole it does indicate she knows this is not the time for a $2.4 billion school building scheme......
WE WILL TAKE THIS MALFEASANCE TO COURT. AIDING AND ABETTING CRIME TAKES AWAY ALL STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS ON THESE FRAUDS!
Baltimore Bankruptcy? City Forecasts Financial Ruin By BEN NUCKOLS 02/06/13 12:02 AM ET EST Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- The Baltimore city government is on a path to financial ruin and must enact major reforms to stave off bankruptcy, according to a 10-year forecast the city commissioned from an outside firm.
The forecast, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its release to the public and the City Council on Wednesday, shows that the city will accumulate $745 million in budget deficits over the next decade because of a widening gap between projected revenues and expenditures.
If the city's infrastructure needs and its liability for retiree health care benefits are included, the total shortfall reaches $2 billion over 10 years, the report found. Baltimore's annual operating budget is $2.2 billion.
The report was prepared by Philadelphia-based Public Financial Management Inc., a consulting firm that has prepared similar forecasts for Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the District of Columbia. Baltimore's decision to commission the forecast differs from those cities because each of them had already ceded financial oversight to the state, or in the district's case, the federal government.
The forecast will provide the basis for financial reforms that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to propose next week. The city has dealt with budget deficits for the past several years, closing a $121 million gap in 2010. But those deficits have been addressed with one-time fixes that haven't addressed the long-term structural imbalance.
"When you have budget after budget and you know that there are systemic problems, I felt an obligation to do more than what we have done in the past," Rawlings-Blake told the AP. The forecast, she said, shows that the city needs to address its financial woes "before it's too late, and somebody is coming in and making these choices for us."
That's what happened to the District of Columbia, 38 miles to the south, in 1995 after the city reported a budget deficit of $700 million. Congress created a financial control board that instituted tight spending controls and ultimately took over all hiring and firing in nine city agencies. The spending cuts, combined with a robust regional and national economy, drove the nation's capital back into the black.
Not all municipalities have been so fortunate. In late 2011, Jefferson County, Ala., filed the nation's largest-ever local government bankruptcy, citing $4.15 billion in debt, and last year, Stockton, Calif., became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy.
In Baltimore, the erosion of the tax base is easy to see. The city's population has dropped from a peak of 950,000 in 1950 to 619,000 today, and while the decline has slowed, there have been few signs of the trend reversing. The median income is $40,000, and 22 percent of the city's residents live in poverty, according to Census data. The city also has 16,000 vacant properties.
Baltimore already has the highest property taxes in Maryland – twice as high as in neighboring Baltimore County. The city's local income taxes are the highest allowed under state law. While the city enacted some new taxes to deal with the 2010 deficit – including taxes on bottled beverages and higher hotel and parking levies – city officials say they can't tax their way out of the problem without driving away residents and businesses.
"We've got to go from a vicious cycle to a virtuous cycle. That starts with a good, stable fiscal foundation for the city government," said Andrew Kleine, the city's budget director. "When you've lost so much population and the tax base has shrunk, it's very difficult to deal with."
If the city chose to use its reserve fund to cover the deficits, the fund would be empty in three years, the report found.
"Quite simply, a status quo approach is not financially sustainable," the report says.
In 2010, the mayor's office released a "doomsday" budget that would have meant firing police officers and closing seven fire stations, among other cuts, and some criticized the move as a tactic intended to soften up the City Council to approve tax increases.
But officials say the new forecast doesn't envision a worst-case scenario. It assumes modest economic growth nationwide over the next decade, said Michael Nadol, a management director at PFM and a lead author of the report.
Rawlings-Blake said the report was intended to be an honest assessment.
"It's not like we've had rosy budgets over the past five years, and now we're screaming that the sky is falling," she said.
Rawlings-Blake, a Democrat, became mayor in 2010 after Sheila Dixon resigned as part of a plea deal for stealing gift cards donated to the city for needy residents. She was elected in 2011 and has nearly four years remaining in her term.
Health care benefits for retired city workers will be a major drag on city finances in the future, according to the forecasts. The city still faces increasing pension costs despite a recent restructuring of the pension plans for police officers and firefighters.
Like many cities, Baltimore doesn't factor the escalating future costs of retiree health care into its annual budgets, and if that doesn't change, the city will be on the hook for another $300 million in 10 years, the report found.
While city officials declined to specify how they would address the shortfall, they said some restructuring of the retiree health plan would be necessary.
The forecast cost the city $460,000. PJM won the contract through a competitive bidding process and subcontracted some of the work, including actuarial analysis.
Shayne Kavanagh, a researcher at the Government Finance Officers Association, said the group recommends that city governments engage in long-term financial planning, but few have taken that step.
"Most government budget practices are one-time, year-by-year affairs," Kavanagh said. "What Baltimore's doing is trying to integrate a longer-term perspective."
Listening to Nina Totenberg suggesting the justices may approve this process is a wakeup call to all Americans. My favorite line was Gansler saying that the police do not use collected DNA in inappropriate ways.....trust them. Here is why not to trust.......
I spoke personally on a few occasions with Gansler during the $25 billion mortgage fraud settlement process about why I and the entire world knew that to be an interest payment on trillions of dollars in fraud. Two questions make it clear why we should not trust. I stated that all 50 States Attorney General went to Greenspan in 2005 to shout out about massive fraud in the mortgage industry; this all being common knowledge for a few years before that. I asked Gansler how all states attorneys had not accumulated enough evidence over several years to have a solidly built case against all this fraud. Gansler simply states 'What!!! I did not know that' referring to the public declaration. I then proceeded to state just a few of the more obvious totals on fraudulent loans that made his $25 billion look like fraud in and of itself. AIG was not only the fall company for the CDS fraud but the dumping ground for a few hundred billion in subprime loans. Freddie and Fannie together had another $400 billion in subprime loans all expected to fall into foreclosure.....they were bad/fraudlulent loans. So all financial professionals placed $600-800 billion in fraudulent loans in just these taxpayer owned institutions. So that would have been the bare minimum in settlement as we know the total is several times that. Gansler says 'How did you get that figure? Where did you hear that'!
So, do we really think our justice department is to be trusted to do the right thing with DNA? As Nina said, 'We will be able to identify people as criminal before they commit crimes'. Yet, psychologists all categorize Wall Street as driven by sociopaths and we know many are felons guilty of what could be categorized as premeditated murder since throwing all of these people into ever deepening poverty through criminal activity is knowing people will die from those actions. SO WHO ARE THESE CRIMINALS NINA THINKS WILL BE IDENTIFIED? NOBODY TRUSTS THE CURRENT POLITICAL SYSTEM!
Supreme Court Considers If Warrantless DNA Swab Violates Constitution by Nina Totenberg
February 26, 2013 3:23 AM Listen to the Story Morning Edition NPR
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a case about the collection of DNA evidence, and whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from obtaining DNA samples before conviction without a warrant.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on Tuesday in a case that could throw a monkey wrench into the widespread use of DNA testing — a case that pits modern technology against notions of personal privacy.
Twenty-eight states and the federal government have enacted laws that provide for automatic DNA collection from people at the time of their arrest. The question is whether it is unconstitutional to do that without a warrant, for the sole purpose of checking the DNA against a national DNA crime scene database.
It is well-established that police can conduct such tests once an individual is convicted. This case asks whether the same is true for people arrested but not yet tried or convicted.
The case before the court stems from the Maryland arrest of Alonzo King in 2009 on assault charges. Police, following state law, swabbed King's cheek to get a DNA sample, and then submitted the sample to the federal DNA database to see if there were any matches.
The database eventually came up with a hit, matching King's DNA to DNA found from a rape kit six years earlier. A masked man had broken into the home of a 53-year-old woman and raped her while holding a gun to her head. King was subsequently tried for the rape and sentenced to life in prison.
But the conviction was thrown out by the Maryland Court of Appeals. The state court noted that King was presumed innocent at the time of the initial arrest and that his DNA was not taken to prove that charge. Therefore, the state court concluded, the DNA collection was nothing more than a state fishing expedition for anything prosecutors could catch.
Maryland appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where oral arguments take place on Tuesday.
Representing Alonzo King, Kannon Shanmugam will tell the court that swabbing people who have not been convicted of a crime, in hopes of finding a match to a different crime, amounts to a dragnet search of the kind the Founding Fathers sought to prevent by enacting the Fourth Amendment.
“ "They're presumed innocent when they're handcuffed; they're presumed innocent when they're strip-searched; and they're presumed innocent when they're sitting in jail awaiting trial. Those are far greater invasions of privacy than touching a Q-tip to the inside of your cheek for a second."
- Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler
"The default rule under the Fourth Amendment is that when a search takes place, it has to be supported either by a warrant issued by a magistrate or by some level of individualized suspicion," Shanmugam said. And neither is required under Maryland law, or any of the other laws mandating DNA collection.
In fact, some DNA laws are more far-reaching. Maryland collects DNA only from those arrested for a serious crime. But as lawyer Shanmugam points out, federal law is not limited to those accused of felonies.
"As matters currently stand, if you are arrested for any federal offense, including speeding on the GW Parkway, the federal government will, as a matter of course, collect your DNA and prepare a profile and enter it into the federal database," he said.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler counters that regardless, the intrusion from DNA collection is "de minimis" — that is, it's negligible — compared with other privacy intrusions when an individual is arrested.
"They're presumed innocent when they're handcuffed; they're presumed innocent when they're strip-searched; and they're presumed innocent when they're sitting in jail awaiting trial," he observes. "Those are far greater invasions of privacy than touching a Q-tip to the inside of your cheek for a second."
Prosecutors and advocates for victims' rights contend there is no difference between DNA testing and fingerprinting, calling it "the fingerprint of the 21st century."
Indeed, the comparison with fingerprinting is a big hurdle to overcome for those challenging Maryland's law. Defense lawyer Shanmugam will tell the justices that fingerprinting is different because it does not involve "any intrusion into the body." Moreover, he will argue that fingerprinting is used primarily to determine the name and identity of the individual in custody, while DNA is generally collected and used to investigate past, unsolved crimes.
He also notes that a complete DNA analysis can reveal a "treasure-trove" of information about an individual's medical and personal history. Allowing the state to have access to the information, without a warrant or some individualized suspicion, he says, is like loading an information gun to invade people's privacy.
State Attorney General Gansler rejects that argument, declaring: "There's never been an allegation that I'm aware of in the history of the United States ... that any police department has ever gone beyond using DNA" as it was used in this case — to see if there is a match to an unsolved crime.
Gansler points out that Maryland's law limits DNA analysis to the small portion of information that experts use to match evidence from a crime scene. But defense lawyer Shanmugam calls that argument a " 'trust us' theory."
Ultimately, law enforcement authorities view DNA as the gold standard in crime detection. The push to add DNA profiles and crime scene DNA to the federal database is fueled by the idea that lives can be saved if serial rapists and murderers can be detected early in their careers and taken off the streets after one or two crimes, instead of a dozen or more.
The odds are that the Supreme Court will agree. The court issued a relatively rare order that permits Maryland to continue DNA collection while the justices consider the case.
Did you notice that unlike several years ago when there was huge public outrage over these same level of rate hikes in first O'Malley administration when media covered this important issue and informed the public in advance so they could organize a response....we heard nothing about this rate increase that was just about the same? That's because a handful of years ago we had public media that worked in the public interest and would therefor want to educate people as to why all this is bad for you and me. Now we have a corporate media taking the place of public media so their approach is to make sure corporate profits are maximized by this rate increase.
It is important to know that the public is owed billions from BGE in the form of payment from as early as the privatization of Maryland's public utility to the court settlement for rate manipulation by Constellation both cases yielding billions for the public. Only in each case rather than sending it back to the rate payers, it was attached to one area of the BGE business to another....Calvert Cliff shutdown or upgrading coal fire power plants that Exelon is allowed to sell for profit. Government watchdogs request information as to where this public asset of billions stand with the BGE/Exelon merger because this debt would have carried over to Exelon but no response. Even People's Counsel refuses to come forward with a documented account of billions of public money attached to BGE.
This is important because it represents yet another example of the 'fungibility' of Maryland public money and the complete lack of accountability with which it moves....like the Transportation Trust. Why is the Maryland Public Service Commission allowing a rate increase for BGE in the first place? This is a billion dollar corporation wanting rate payers to pay for past operations and future infrastructure development.....and Maryland Third Way corporate politicians do not want shareholder wealth compromised. The public accountability will occur if it takes a trip to court, but we need to remember that these Maryland Third Way corporate democrats will not stop making you and I pay for ever increasing corporate profits so we simply need to RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES NEXT ELECTIONS!!!!
BGE customers to see rate increase $3.33 extra a month for average residential electric customer, $2.70 extra for natural gas
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun 8:18 p.m. EST, February 22, 2013
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers will be paying higher rates this year, with the average bills rising by several dollars a month, to cover the cost of upgrading the utility's infrastructure.
Maryland's Public Service Commission, which regulates the company, said Friday it approved an increase to distribution rates that will cost the average residential electricity customer an additional $3.33 a month and the average residential gas customer an extra $2.70 a month. The utility had sought larger rate increases.
The commission shaved 35 percent off the utility's request, which also included higher commercial rates. BGE will receive about $113 million annually from the rate increase, money that is largely for gas mains, poles and other infrastructure and projects related to safety and reliability — such as tree trimming around electrical wires.
The new charges go into effect Saturday.
"It's one of those things, I guess, you've just got to live with," said Paul Verchinski, a Columbia resident who testified before the commission with concerns about the rate request on behalf of the Howard County Citizens Association. "I'm glad it's not as much as what they asked for."
BGE rate increases have been the subject of much debate and customer ire in recent years.
The Maryland Office of People's Counsel, which represents residential utility consumers, and regulatory staff had recommended lower rates than those approved by the commission. The staffers thought BGE needed about $9 million less than the commissioners ultimately approved. The people's counsel argued that BGE could manage with half as much of an increase.
BGE, which disagrees, warned Friday that it will likely need to file more frequent rate increases to keep up with its costs.
"While we believe the rate adjustments are a step in the right direction, they fall short of providing BGE with adequate funding for the significant investments we've made and must continue to make," said Robert L. Gould, a spokesman for the utility.
The commission, which has signaled it prefers rate increases be used to reimburse expenses rather than pay for future ones, refused to allow almost $20 million for proposed safety and reliability work.
But part of commission's decision to approve a lower increase came down to simple profits.
Commissioners set BGE's rate of return lower than the company had wanted — and lower than the amount approved in the utility's last rate case in 2010.
"The return BGE's investors will be allowed to earn in this case is appropriate, particularly under the present economic climate," commissioners wrote in their order.
Paula M. Carmody, head of the Office of People's Counsel, was glad to see those reductions. But the distribution rates are rising more than they did the last time.
"Even though the commission has reduced significantly the amount of money they can charge customers, it still results in a significant increase," she said.
Employers were disappointed, too.
"It really is a tough time for rate increases," said Todd R. Chason, an attorney who represents the Maryland Energy Group, which advocates for hospitals and other large energy users.
BGE said customers' bills will typically be lower than in 2009, even with the new increase, because the cost of energy has dropped. Commodity prices account for about 70 percent of the tab.
The company also said the average residential electricity customer should actually see an increase of less than $3.33 a month in distribution charges because average power use has dropped "considerably" below the level the commission used in its calculation.
Customers who use electricity and gas will be hit by increases to both distribution rates, but less than the two averages put together, BGE said. That's because the typical residential consumer in that group uses less electricity than electric-only customers.
Actually we will blame all Third Way corporate democrats but Obama is the one who has the most power to turn this around. Remember the Financial Reform bill your Third Way corporate democrat touted a few years ago as sticking it to Wall Street? Well, almost none of it was inacted and that includes the rule meant to protect you and I from rampent market manipulation/speculation in the commodities market...which gives us inflated gas prices. The market essentially uses the public as an ATM and your politicians think that is OK. After billions are made in weeks of inflated prices Obama has 3 times threatened to enact this rule and then never does. That is because Third Way corporate democrats work for wealth and corporate profit not the welfare of the people.
The solution is to bring the democratic party back to its base....labor and justice. We are the ones charged with protecting the people and we let the party fall into the hands of corporate pols. All we need to do is run and vote for labor and justice next elections....at all levels.
WHEN ARE AMERICANS GOING TO RALLY AND PROTEST THESE INJUSTICES!!!!! DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE BROKE!!!
Gas prices post big jump since last month Monthly increase is biggest since June 2009
By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun 7:32 p.m. EST, February 25, 2013
As gas prices soared toward $4 per gallon, Fred Price has sought out the best deals at the pump.
Even so, the self-employed handyman who drives to jobs throughout Baltimore is feeling the pinch of a more than 40-cent-per-gallon jump in the last month.
"I have to cut back on my traveling, and I'm using less help," Price said Monday as he pumped another $30 worth — about half a tank— into his Ford F-150 pickup. "I'm trying to keep up with it, but it's making it really hard to buy gas."
A gallon of regular gas cost 44 cents more on Monday than a month ago — an average of $3.78 up from $3.34 nationwide, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That's the largest monthly increase since June 2009. Gas prices had risen 36 days straight through Friday, before relenting slightly over the weekend, AAA said. (A year ago, regular gas cost on average $3.69 a gallon.)
Prices in Maryland have mirrored national trends, with regular gas averaging $3.79 per gallon Monday, up from $3.38 a month ago. Prices have crossed the $4-a-gallon barrier at numerous stations around the state, especially in suburbs near Washington, where drivers on Monday found regular gas averaging $4.02 per gallon.
Analysts expect prices to continue rising, though more slowly, with averages peaking at a lower level than last April's high of $3.94 per gallon.
Rising gas prices affect consumers' budgets differently depending on their income levels, said Steven Isberg, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Baltimore Merrick School of Business.
"If you're a family on a fixed budget, you've got to get back and forth to work and … you're stuck paying the high price, so something else comes out of your budget," he said.
This is the second year in a row with atypically high winter gas prices, said Ragina C. Averella, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. But prices have shot up faster this year, she said. Prices usually increase in the spring as refineries switch to producing summer-blend gas, a more environmentally friendly fuel.
This year, prices have risen earlier than usual as crude oil prices have increased and as U.S. refineries have gone offline earlier to switch to making the summer-blend or have faced other disruptions, AAA said. Crude oil had been approaching $97 per barrel until last week, when prices began to ease, closing at $93.11 per barrel Monday.
While U.S. gas prices dipped a fraction of a cent over the weekend, "the downturn appears negligible, an interlude rather than a trend change," Averella said.
Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, which tracks gasoline prices, said higher prices are partly a result of investors' pouring money into crude oil, expecting high gasoline demand.
"Speculators are looking to make a buck, and everyone is throwing money into oil, and that causes prices of oil to go up, and gas prices follow," said DeHaan, who said $23 billion has been invested in crude oil in about two months, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Demand for gas also is up slightly from a year ago, which could reflect improvements in the economy, he said.
"As long as speculative money pours in, prices will continue to go up," though "it's likely we're close to a peak, if we haven't peaked already," DeHaan said.
Consumers are hoping for a break soon. Lisa Lewis, who lives near Morgan State University and spends much of her day dropping off and picking up her three teenagers from different schools, pumped gas Monday at the Sunoco A-Plus Mini Mart on York Road. It was one of the lower-priced stations in the city, selling regular gas for $3.67 per gallon Monday.
Lewis said she spends about $125 a week to fuel her minivan.
"It's ridiculous," she said. "You have to cut back on other stuff, like going to the food store."
Israel Negash, president and owner of the Sunoco, said he is able to keep prices lower than the average by relying on sales of soda and snacks in the mini-mart. The lower prices help lure customers, keeping the pumps busy, he said.
"We try to do what we can to keep the lowest prices," he said.
Isberg, the economics professor, said that consumers tend to cut back on discretionary spending to accommodate higher gas prices, such as going to movies or sporting events and taking vacations — especially driving trips — which can hurt tourism.
"What we've experienced in the last three or four years is [gas] prices have been jumping up and down," he said. "We're seeing a lot more volatility. That could be because people's behavior changes when prices go up. When gas prices increase and people cut back on travel, that affects demand for gasoline."
In an economy he described as in "realignment," not recovery, and with the federal government sequestration cutbacks looming, "it's not a really good time for gas prices to go up, in terms of where the economy's heading."
DO YOU SEE WHERE THE MEDIA ONLY REPORTS ON THE POLITICAL CENTER? ACTUALLY GRILLO, THE PROTEST VOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE PLACES AT DISTANT THIRD HAS THE ABILITY TO BRING OUT FAR MORE VOTES IF THERE IS A SECOND RUNOFF ELECTION....AND WALL STREET FELL AT THE PROSPECT BECAUSE THIS WOULD MEAN NOT ONLY GREECE BUT NOW ITALY PULLING AWAY FROM AUSTERITY (THE BANKS CODE FOR TAKING PUBLIC MONEY TO REPLACE THE MONEY WE STOLE).
THIS IS HAPPENING ALL OVER EUROPE AS THE PEOPLE HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THE CRIMINAL ACTS AT THE TOP. THIS WILL PROBABLY CAUSE ANOTHER ECONOMIC COLLAPSE OR RECESSION BUT WILL BE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE MUST START ENGAGING AS WELL AS THESE POLS ARE DOING THE SAME AUSTERITY THING RIGHT NOW!!!
Center-left coalition tops Berlusconi in Italian elections Coalitions within 1 percent of each in votes for lower house UPDATED 12:47 AM EST Feb 26, 2013
Alessandro Garofalo / Reuters
ROME, Italy (CNN) —The center-left coalition headed by Pier Luigi Bersani appears to have won a narrow victory in elections for Italy's lower house of parliament, according to final figures released by the Interior Ministry.
Bersani's coalition won 29.54% of the vote cast for the lower house, less than half a percentage point more than the center-right coalition headed by controversial three-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which garnered 29.18% of the vote.
Final results for the Senate showed the center-left winning with 31.63% of the vote, compared with the center-right's 30.72%.
"It's by no means done, but it is exceptional. This is the first time ever that Italy has had a hung parliament," said James Walston, a professor at The American University of Rome, before the final results.
"The center-left was not able to put forward a clear picture; they lack leadership. And Berlusconi, who was trailing way behind before Christmas, ended up putting together, reconstituting, a new center-right coalition," he said.
Voter turnout was lower than anticipated on Sunday, the first day of balloting, down from 62.55% in 2008 to 55.17% this year, the state-run ANSA news agency reported.
Weather, in part, appeared to cause the lower voter turnout, the news agency said. It was snowing in portions of northern Italy and raining in the southern part of the country.
The candidates and their alliances
Sampling polls were banned within two weeks of the elections, but the most recent ones had Bersani holding on to a slender lead over Berlusconi. Former comedian Beppe Grillo was a distant third.
All the candidates, with the exception of Grillo, cast their ballots Sunday, ANSA reported.
This Third Way corporate policy of raising minimum wage and indexing it to COLA all the while decrying the situation of the working poor is typical Baltimore and Maryland Bait and Switch that has the very people who are victim to being the working poor advocating for policy that will keep them as working poor. Baltimore has no justice leaders!!!!!
We all know that the Living Wage is now at $14 and that is the low estimate. This bill not only puts off raising the rate to 2015 when the Living Wage will be higher, but it ties it to a COLA that ensures that wages will stay forever in poverty and in fact continually deepen poverty. Do you know what a 1-2% annual increase looks like? That's right....10-20 cents on a $10 wage. So, this minimum wage bill works against the working poor and not for them.
Now, we do not think we will be able to jump from $7.25 to $14 an hour, but if your justice organization and incumbent are not shouting that this is a stepping stone, and locking to the COLA as the only increased leaves no stepping stone......they are not working for you and me. For those middle-class people who don't care how poor workers are allowed to be, remember that these wages frame your own wage bracket and you know that doesn't look good either!!
Advocates: retail giants can handle hike increasing $7.25/hour minimum wage Fern Shen February 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm Baltimore Brew
Walmart employee Mike Mensah, part of a demonstration by supporters of a bill to increase Maryland’s minimum wage.
Walmart workers and their supporters gathered outside the Catonsville Walmart today to say that raising Maryland’s $7.25-per-hour minimum wage would help families struggling to pay their bills without hurting the large, profitable companies that employ the majority of Maryland’s low-wage workers.
“Mom and pop businesses are always held up as the victims of minimum-wage laws, but actually our study found that 71% of the companies that employ low-wage workers in Maryland are big, employing 50 people or more,” said Jack Temple, a researcher who worked on the study released today by the National Employment Law Project.
The report, released today, also concludes that these companies are doing well. The authors reviewed the nation’s 50 largest low-wage employers and found that 63% of them are earning higher profits than before the recession.
Walmart, for instance, had post-recession profit growth of 23 percent and in 2011 paid its CEO $18,131,738, according to the report.
“The evidence is clear these businesses could afford the impact” of an increased Maryland minimum wage, Temple said.
“No one is saying that Wal-Mart should not be making money,” Rev. David Carl Olson of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore said, addressing the crowd. “But the most powerful corporations in the world are making their extraordinary profits on the backs of working people and it isn’t fair.”
A 31-year-old Walmart employee from Laurel, Michael Mensah, told the crowd he makes $10 an hour, can’t afford a car and lives at home with his mother.
Lagging Behind Other States
The demonstrators – about 25 of them assembled out near Baltimore National Pike after Baltimore County police blocked the entrance – were organized by Raise Maryland, a coalition of community, labor, immigrant, civil rights and faith groups working for passage of a statewide minimum wage increase.
The coalition is seeking support for bills introduced last month by Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery) and Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) to raise the state minimum wage to $10 by 2015 and then index it to rise with the cost of living. The legislation also incorporates a 20% increase for tipped workers (from 50% to 70% of the current minimum wage).
Lobbyists for retailers are lining up to oppose the legislation. And the Maryland Chamber of Commerce has warned members about the pending bills and said they would saddle employers with “additional costs” that “would have a negative impact on the state’s business climate and economic competitiveness.”
Walmart: Workers Are Proud of Their Jobs
Walmart spokesman Dan Fogleman declined to comment on the minimum wage legislation but said people have “misconceptions” about jobs at the company’s stores.
“Our associates are hard working women and men who chose to work for us. They are proud of their jobs,” Fogleman said. He said the average employee is full-time and makes $12.57-per-hour.
Advocates note that Arizona, Florida, Alaska, Maine, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico all require employers to pay a minimum wage above $7.25 per hour, the current federal standard.
They also cite a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) describing who would benefit from the minimum wage measure – about 536,000 Maryland workers, 87% of whom are over the age of 20 and 44% of whom are white.
If enacted, the measure would put an additional $778 million into these Maryland workers’ paychecks during the two-year phase-in period, the EPI report says.
Obama: Raise National Minimum Wage
Efforts to help low-wage workers are heating up locally and nationally in recent months. The hospitality workers’ union Unite Here helped workers at the Hyatt Baltimore to win an unfair labor practices complaint against the hotel chain last month.
The union is also working to help concession workers at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. They recently staged a rally at the airport, with workers speaking out about alleged lack of respect, poverty wages and inadequate access to affordable health care.
President Obama, in his State of the Union address, also took up the cause. He called for a rise in the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9, with subsequent increases in line with inflation.