Monday, July 21, 2014

Who’s To Blame For The Border Crisis? By Hal Hawkins


Source: http://www.hardhatters.com/2014/07/whos-blame-border-crisis/
July 2014

An overwhelming surge of tens of thousands of illegal alien children crossing our southern border has been happening in the past few months, everyone is looking for a scapegoat. Rather than seeking out a solution to end this surge, most would prefer to just point fingers. The blame game is a lot like sex. It sells. Unfortunately, most are rather biased in how they point fingers. Democrats blame Bush. Republicans blame Obama. Libertarians blame our open border as not being open enough. It’s never really that simple; however, as there are many areas to place blame, so we’re going to play this “game” right. What’s causing all these illegal alien children to come here so suddenly?

Obama and DACA

In all fairness, Obama is the chief executive of this country and oversees all border security and immigration departments. On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration announced rule changes called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As you can see in the video below, Obama made the announcement publicly in the White House Rose Garden. According to him, the children brought here against their will are Americans “in every, single way but one, on paper.” The rule applies to nearly every illegal alien who was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, was under 16 when they came to America, and has resided in America continuously since 2007. While the last exception should rule out the thousands of illegal alien children that have come across the border over these past few months, this rule, when reaching the ears of Central Americans, could be easily misinterpreted as a free pass.

However, it’s very likely that most will receive a free pass, even those who do not qualify for DACA. Some are even celebrated. On June 17, 2014, the White House held a “Champions of Change” ceremony for 10 illegal aliens who received deferred action under DACA. They were proclaimed as “success stories” and “role models.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

Johnson has been very ambiguous in statements on whether or not DHS will deport the illegal alien children that have arrived here. On Meet the Press, Johnson stated that everyone crossing illegally was administered deportation proceeding, but he emphasized that he wanted “additional options for dealing with the children”.

Bill Clinton and Congress

Just before Bill Clinton left office, Congress, with near unanimity in both Houses (one Representative voted no), passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. This bill was designed to assist illegal immigrant children who were trafficked here. To qualify, one must be under 18, claim to be a victim of human trafficking, and be willing to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the traffickers. In return, they automatically qualify “for benefits and services under any Federal or State program or activity” funded by the Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Labor, and Legal Services Corporation. Essentially, this law protects the illegal alien children who are not from Mexico or Canada, roughly 39,000, from being quickly deported.

George W. Bush and Congress

Bush has been falsely attributed as the creator of the above law by many media outlets, thus the person to blame. As shown above, it was actually under Bill Clinton’s watch that the original bill passed, BUT Bush did sign the renewal of the bill on 3 separate occasions: 2003, 2005, and 2008.

Obama and Congress

Under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, the above law was most recently renewed and signed by Obama.

Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress

In 1965, the Hart-Celler Act was passed and signed by LBJ, which ended the program of immigration quotas by country. Instead, it placed preference towards family reunification (aka chain migration). Under this law and if the illegal alien children qualify to stay under the above trafficking law, this would allow the children’s parents to legally migrate to the U.S. Otherwise, if the order had been reversed, the parents would have been deported. It could be assumed that the parents of the illegal alien children are using them as the chain in order to come here without going through proper channels.

Central American Media

Media outlets in Central America might be encouraging people to come here or misleading them about our laws. The Huffington Post found that “the region’s newspapers often failed to emphasize the June 2012 cutoff date” for DACA. Newsmax reported that several Central American outlets were promoting the idea that accommodation would be found for illegal alien children.

Obama and the Deportation Deception

The Obama Administration continues to tout its toughness on immigration by citing its high deportation numbers. Unfortunately, this is not exactly true. While the number of forced removals is all-time highs, this, historically, is not the majority of deportations. As we’ve shown in the past, total deportations per year, including voluntary/self-deportations, are at 40 year lows. Deportation is not a deterrent to these crossings.

Supreme Court

There have been numerous decisions relating to immigration, but the biggest of all relating to these children is arguably Plyler v. Doe. In a 5-4 vote in 1975, the Supreme Court ruled that illegal aliens and their children were to be given 14th Amendment protections and had a right to free, public, K-12 education. Since many public schools in the U.S. are much better than those in Central America, this award to illegal alien children would definitely incentivize more to come.

Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature

Plyler v. Doe did not extend the education rights of illegal aliens to in-state tuition for state universities, so the Texas Legislature did that for them in 2001 with HB 1403 and was signed by Gov. Rick Perry. This law granted illegal alien students access to in-state tuition at Texas public institutions of higher education and state financial aid. All they have to do is prove their residence of three years in Texas, graduate or get a GED from a Texas public or private high school, and announce their intent to apply for permanent resident status. Rick Perry, during his 2012 presidential run, famously stated that anybody who opposes these education policies for illegal aliens don’t “have a heart.”

California

California has gone above and beyond Texas in the race to accommodate illegal aliens. Starting in 2015, illegal aliens will be eligible for state driver’s licenses. They are able to collect welfare, such as food stamps and cash assistance, and can use Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid. Illegal aliens are also now eligible to apply for law licenses within the state. The group FAIR recently estimated that California spends $25.3 billion on services for illegal aliens. In Los Angeles County alone, $650 million was estimated by the Department of Public Social Services to have been distributed by illegal aliens. Additionally, California law prohibits landlords from asking an applicant or tenant about their immigration status.

Mexican Drug Cartels

The drug cartels are actually assisting the illegal alien children to cross, according to Texas DPS director Steve McCraw. Why? Essentially, these children are being used as decoys to distract and overwhelm the Border Patrol. With this system in place, narcotics can flow practically unimpeded into the U.S. Total drug seizures have dropped 34%, meaning the drug cartels are banking heavily on the continued flow of illegal aliens.


 

The list could go on and on, but the causes listed above show the three main causes/incentives for these illegal alien children to cross as being a porous, unenforced border, a welfare state, and politicians with open arms.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Judicial Watch Smoking Gun Busts Open IRS Scandal, Again By Tom Fitton

Source: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/06/17/Judicial-Watch-Smoking-Gun-Busts-Open-IRS-Scandal-Again

June 17, 2014

The news just keeps going from bad to worse for President Obama and disgraced former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, thanks in large part to Judicial Watch’s investigative work. 

JW has been instrumental in uncovering evidence of Lerner’s role in the IRS “Tea Party” scandal, obtaining records even Congress could not get – documents proving the nation’s tax collecting agency attempted to silence conservative organizations through abusive practices. 

And these discoveries led the Congress to push for more accountability. 

On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, the House of Representatives voted 231-187 to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the agency’s targeting of Tea Party groups. Moments after the contempt vote – and arguably more importantly – the House passed a separate resolution asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appoint a special counsel to probe the IRS over the scandal by a vote of 250-168, with 26 Democrats joining Republicans. 

And previously, on April 9, 2014, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer Lerner to the DOJ for criminal prosecution for alleged actions relating to the IRS’s targeting scandal. 

And now this, as reported by Townhall.com’s Katie Pavlich

Back in April, Judicial Watch released documents showing IRS officials, including former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner, discussing the possibility of bringing criminal charges against tea party groups for engaging in “political activity.” In fact, the documents showed Lerner wanted to make an example out of someone with charges in order to chill all of the groups in the tea party movement… 

Now according to a release from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Lerner had a database of tax exempt organizations sent to the FBI just before the 2010 midterm elections. That database included legally protected taxpayer information. Emails show Lerner and DOJ Election Crimes Branch official Richard Pilger discussing what format the FBI prefers when it comes to receiving information for their investigation. 

“Thanks Lois – FBI says Raw format is best because they can put it into their systems like excel,” Pilger wrote in an October 6, 2010 email to Lerner. 

So the Obama IRS worked with the FBI to advance a scheme to criminally prosecute conservative organizations in the final weeks of the campaign season! 

While at first the DOJ said the 1.1 million pages of records included only publicly available tax information, Justice officials ultimately reversed course, admitting that some confidential information was released as well. 

According to Reps. Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan in a letter to IRS commissioner John Koskinen: “This revelation that the IRS sent 1.1 million pages of nonprofit tax-return data — including confidential taxpayer information — to the FBI confirms suspicions that the IRS worked with the Justice Department to facilitate the potential investigation of nonprofit groups engaged in lawful political speech.” 

“[T]his revelation likely means that the IRS — including possibly Lois Lerner — violated federal tax law by transmitting this information to the Justice Department in 2010." 

From the very beginning of the IRS scandal, Judicial Watch has been unearthing the truth about Lerner’s efforts to harass and hamstring conservative organizations. 

JW’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and lawsuits resulted in revelations of Lerner’s collusion with the DOJ and the Federal Election Commission, as well as her spearheading efforts within the IRS to delay or block applications from Tea Party groups for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status. 

Judicial Watch’s leadership led Congress to uncover that the FBI is now part of the IRS abuse scandal. Where will it end? And when will someone be held criminally accountable? Eric Holder’s DOJ and the FBI are now supposed to be investigating themselves? This is untenable. 

In addition to Judicial Watch’s independent investigation, we need a special counsel – who isn’t a stooge of Obama or of Eric Holder – to investigate this administration, an idea with which even twenty-six House Democrats already agree.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Newly-released WH email shows Rice talking points on Benghazi politically motivated By Ed Morrissey

Source: http://hotair.com/archives/2014/04/29/newly-released-wh-email-shows-rice-talking-points-on-benghazi-politically-motivated/
April 29, 2014

If this isn’t a smoking gun on Benghazi, at least on the controversy over the talking points that blamed a YouTube video rather than the terrorists who plotted and then conducted the attack, then it’s not clear what would qualify. Judicial Watch forced the release of additional White House e-mails relating to the evolution of the talking points and finds a rather bald-faced admission of Obama administration interests in Susan Rice’s television appearances the following Sunday. The YouTube story was designed to distract from “policy failures,” according to Barack Obama’s aide Ben Rhodes:

rhoades-email

Judicial Watch announced today that on April 18, 2014, it obtained 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents. They include a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”  Other documents show that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack” a possible kidnap attempt.

The documents were released Friday as result of a June 21, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Department of State (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00951)) to gain access to documents about the controversial talking points used by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice for a series of appearances on television Sunday news programs on September 16, 2012.  Judicial Watch had been seeking these documents since October 18, 2012.

The Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 8:09 p.m. with the subject line:  “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.”  The documents show that the “prep” was for Amb. Rice’s Sunday news show appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack.

The document lists as a “Goal”: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in and Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

Rhodes returns to the “Internet video” scenario later in the email, the first point in a section labeled “Top-lines”:

[W]e’ve made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message and its contents. We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message.

Among the top administration PR personnel who received the Rhodes memo were White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, then-National Security Council Director of Communications Erin Pelton, Special Assistant to the Press Secretary Howli Ledbetter, and then-White House Senior Advisor and political strategist Davie Plouffe.

That’s a rather extensive distribution list, and that prompts another question:

Didn’t the White House insist that they’d offered complete transparency to Congress and the public on the talking points? It was just eleven months ago that the White House claimed to have released their whole archive on the development of those talking points and accused the GOP of “doctoring” them to make their critical response look political. The Washington Post gave White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer three Pinocchios for that claim. Hopefully, Glenn Kessler has a few more Pinocchios in reserve, now that this bombshell has hit.

It’s possible to read this as an extension of a sincere belief that the video caused a riot which led to the attack. By the time this e-mail was written, there was plenty of evidence — even in the e-mail chain itself — to show that wasn’t the case, but let’s say for argument’s sake that Rhodes actually thought this argument was valid. The flip side of it is that, since it wasn’t an ad-hoc demonstration that turned into a riot, the takeaway should be that this was the result of “a broader failure or policy” from the Obama administration. Right?

Update: Fixed a couple of typos, thanks to an e-mail from the indispensable Jeryl Bier. (Took a couple of tries, though.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Out of LinkedIn Invites? 3 Ways to Get More By Asia

Source: http://www.sociablesales.com/out-of-linkedin-invites-3-ways-to-get-more/

One way to build your LinkedIn network is to send out invitations to everyone you meet, speak to and do business with. This works really well, until you run out of invites to send out. LinkedIn allows you to send out 3,000 invites. If you have used them all, you have 3 options.

This article outlines the three ways you can continue to grow your network after you run out of invitations to send out.

Most people have to learn the hard way that the limitation for the number of invites you send sent out on LinkedIn is 3000. Luckily, there are a few ways to get more invites, even if you have already reached the limit here are your options:

  • 1. Withdraw Requests From Your Sent Box

    This is a manual process and takes quite a bit of time. However, it’s worth it to “free up” those invitations that aren’t being accepted.

    To do this: Go to Contacts > My Connections. Then at the bottom right hand corner of your connections box, you’ll see a link for “unsent invitations”. Click on the subject line of any invitations that have not been accepted and that are more than 1 month old. You can then “withdraw” the invite and thereby add them back into your pool. Do not Delete as that does not Withdraw. You have to do this manually – tedious, I know.

    Click here to watch the video instructions.

  • 2. Contact LinkedIn Customer Support To Request More.

    This can take up to 2 – 3 days if your not a premium account holder. Duncan Work from LinkedIn explained this really well on Dave Taylor’s Blog:

    Here’s an explanation of LinkedIn’s policies regarding invitation limits for those who haven’t seen them before.

    Because of complaints from members who were receiving multiple invitations from people they didn’t know we now have a default limit of 3000 invitations that a member can send. Before the limit we had a couple of thousand users who regularly sent thousands – or even tens of thousands of invitations – with very low acceptance rates and lots of abuse reports. The limits have helped stop most of that — but not all.

    When you get close to the limit and send new invitations you’ll see a message on the site telling you that you’re close and that you can request more.

    The best way to request an increase is to log in to your LinkedIn account and use the Contact Customer Service form on our site.

    As with all inquiries to customer service, they give fastest turnaround to paying customers and using the form above will get the quickest response. If you’re not a premium account holder your request will still get answered but it could take 2 to 3 days, depending on how busy customer service is.

    If the positive feedback from the people you’ve recently invited is high you’ll get an increase of 500 additional invitations; and you can request additional invitations 30 days after your limit was last increased.

    The threshold we use for giving a full increase is first, that the member’s recent invitations resulted in acceptance rates that are at least average compared to the norms for LinkedIn members who have sent several hundred or more invitations; and second, that the complaints and abuse reports they’ve received must also be low compared to the norm. For people who are regularly inviting people who know them or who are inviting self-declared “open-connectors” (people who are open to connecting to most LinkedIn members) this isn’t a particularly difficult threshold to get above.

    If the positive feedback from the people you’ve invited since your last increase (or recently if a first-time increase) is below the threshold for getting a full increase of 500, you will initially get at least some additional invitations, often 100, so that you can establish a positive feedback score needed to get higher increases. People who repeatedly get below average positive feedback scores may not receive any additional invitations and will then have to wait a longer period before requesting more.

    You can insure that your acceptance rates stay high by only sending invitations to people who know you, or to people who have indicated that they’re open to invitations coming from people they don’t know. Instead of using invitations to reach out to new people or others you’ve had little interaction with, we suggest using InMails, OpenLink messages and Introduction Proposals for LinkedIn members. And in general we recommend finding other ways to get to know better the people you want to meet before inviting them to connect.

    Of course, whenever there are limits, some people will try to get around them. For example a few have tried to get good feedback scores by sending a small number of invitations in a month and following the rules for whom to send them to. Then they hope that they can store up large increases and send them all at once to whomever they want, not caring so much about getting a full increase the next time. We’ve had to make our rules a tiny bit more complex to prevent these kinds of games, but those rules affect really only a handful of people.

    No rules are perfect. But by using feedback from the people whom users themselves choose to invite, and by regularly giving increases to people who consistently get good feedback, the system seems to be working fairly well.

  • 3. Ask Other People To Invite You

    It’s not as effective as sending an invitation to connect, since it’s not as easy to just “accept”, but it’s still better than nothing. You can ask people to send you an invitation to connect and provide them with your LinkedIn link and email address. A few places you could add this to are your out going emails, on your business cards, and on your website.

Do Not Spam

Do not use these tips to start spamming other LinkedIn members. As always, when sending invitations to other people, make sure your first intention is to build a relationship and offer something of value.

In any case, be a little cautious with your invites since you only have so many, and LinkedIn is constantly changing their policy regarding invites!

Atlas Shrugged...U.S. Patent And Trade Office Cancels Six Redskins' Trademarks


Source: http://kissingsuzykolber.uproxx.com/2014/06/u-s-patent-and-trademark-office-cancels-six-redskins-trademarks.html
June 18, 2014

Dan Synder can boast all he wants of the proud tradition underpinning the use of the Redskins’ name, but the minute he can’t make money off of it, you best believe that name is going away with the quickness. And so those who would like to see the Redskins name get changed must be hearted by this ruling by the Patent and Trademark Office that the name is offensive.

The U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning.

“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its opinion.

“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”

Dan Snyder will most certainly appeal. The Redskins’ name was previously rejected by the same board in 1999 based on a 1992 lawsuit, only for a federal court to overturn that ruling due to “a technicality that the plaintiffs say has been fixed in this most recent case”. Should the ban hold up on appeal, the Redskins would be forced to change the name or face a situation where they’d have no control over their brand. There’s no way the NFL would accept a name that they don’t have the trademark for. All that supposedly proud tradition team personnel has spoken of disappears in a hurry if the money does as well.

Not that Dan Snyder doesn’t have a contingency plan. Snyder had the name “Washington Warriors” trademarked almost 15 years ago.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BMO Launches an IBOR By Jake Thomases

Source: http://www.waterstechnology.com/waters/feature/2334931/bmo-launches-an-ibor
March 21, 2014

A merger of three investment managers had just been announced when BMO Global Asset Management made the decision to revamp its portfolio accounting procedures. What followed was a near three-year project that made the company the proud owner of an IBOR, and an example for the rest of the buy side. By Jake Thomases

As buy-side institutions consider the merits and costs of developing an investment book of record (IBOR), BMO Global Asset Management is relaxing on the porch with a pipe, an iced tea, and its feet on a shaggy dog. The debates are now quiet for BMO’s Chicago-based buy-side arm; the blueprints are put away; the implementation is largely over. While others mull philosophical topics like whether an IBOR should support the front office or the middle office, or whether IBOR represents a new concept or merely a new wrapper on a portfolio accounting system, BMO is already reaping the rewards of the system.

Early Adopter
The scope of what constitutes an IBOR has been in constant evolution for decades. Barclays Global Investors has taken credit for inventing the term around 1999. The transition from user-developed tools to an enterprise IBOR barely got off the ground in the ensuing years, either because of a lack of need or a lack of understanding of the value of holistic, intraday position data. By beginning its adoption process in January of 2011, BMO could fairly be called an early adopter, deserving of both the acclaim and the scrutiny that accompanies such a title.

“The right third-party consultant will understand what it means to use the system with these other applications that you have hanging off of it: your portfolio analytics, your order management, and how you configure firewalls and deal with batch and file transfers.” —Todd Healy, BMO Global Asset Management

Yet that process was not triggered by a great faith in IBOR. The term never even touched the tongue of decision-makers during the initial months of 2011. Rather, the organization was in the process of merging with the investment management arms of BMO Harris Bank, its US affiliate, and M&I Bank, which BMO’s Toronto-based parent company agreed to buy in December 2010. It found itself with a heaping pile of portfolio management systems. The cost to maintain them all would have been high, to say nothing of the inefficiencies created by such a tangled web.

The collection needed to be pared. Todd Healy, the vice president in charge, considered his options. M&I utilized a trust system as its book of record and an operational data store to feed downstream systems, including the order management system (OMS). Harris was getting its start-of-day positions from reports, and through overlaying into the OMS. None of the legacy choices seemed sufficient. The $128 billion asset manager had plans to grow into new markets with new products and bigger assets; it needed a consolidated and intra-day overview of its positions on a grander scale than any of the available legacy systems would provide. To get truly consistent data it needed more than a synchronized solution—it needed a single solution.

Wouldn’t it be nice, Healy imagined, if we had a centralized book of record that we could feed down to the FactSets, to the Barclays, to all these other analytics systems we’re using? “We knew what we needed—we just didn’t have the right label to put on it,” he says.

An earlier organizational decision to avoid building any software internally meant Healy would have to find a third-party provider, and the money to hire one—the initial allotted budget was sufficient only to migrate customers onto an existing legacy system. The team had to push for additional investment into the ambitious project, which it received.

Outstanding Features
In January 2012, a year after beginning the brainstorming phase, an agreement with Copenhagen-based SimCorp was signed. Among the features that stood out about the flagship SimCorp Dimension investment management product were its scalability and breadth of securities coverage. SimCorp’s IBOR promised a single source of data for accurately determining positions, performance, and risk exposure. Without it, BMO would continue to work off partial or out-of-date data, or have its portfolio managers produce more accurate figures manually, something Healy had already seen too much of. It was an absurd use of their time.

“We had to make sure we had a really good understanding of who the users of the data were going to be and that we were meeting their specific needs for that data, both in terms of timeliness and the view they are going to get,” says Lance Ihinger, managing director at Cutter Associates, a Boston-based consultancy that was brought on to assist with some of the business decisions. “One of our top priorities was being able to get the cash balance to the people who needed it—in other words, right when these traders come in in the morning they’re going to need to know what their cash is—and being able to understand how the corporate actions cash affects their position.”

Originally, the users of the data were intended to be in the middle and back office. As the benefits to the trading desk became apparent, as additional modules were offered by SimCorp, the scope of the project expanded.

It was important to keep everybody on the same page as the vision changed. The single most important piece of advice Healy would offer to investment firms following BMO’s footsteps is that everyone in the organization agree on the purpose of the IBOR. A Waters breakfast briefing on IBOR in February revealed that there is still a lack of agreement on what functions it should encompass and which divisions should be the primary beneficiaries. No single organization can get industry participants to come to a consensus, but they can at least come to a consensus internally. With so many disparate IBOR opinions floating around, it would be easy to find the front, middle, and back office, as well as IT and the executive level, taking different tacks.

Mo’ Voices, Mo’ Problems
Unity took on special importance in this case because of all the parties involved. The M&I team was working out of Milwaukee, the Harris team, including project manager Healy, out of Chicago, and the BMO team out of Toronto. Most in-house IT was done in Toronto, although Sal Auditore, a consultant who acted as the technical go-between with SimCorp, recalls the IT staff coming in three groups, each handling a different part of the task. Most of the technologists were full time; most of the business people were not. There were some that spent as much as 80 percent of their time on the implementation, while others spent merely 10 percent.

Then there were the five dedicated team members from SimCorp, along with subject matter experts on security mapping, accounting, performance, and the like that slipped in and out. BMO also brought on Cutter Associates in May 2012 and Adeptyx, the Bloomington, Minnesota advisor where Auditore is a director, in late 2011.

“The vendor knows their product really, really well—in a test environment,” says Healy. “The right third-party consultant will understand what it means to use the system with these other applications that you have hanging off of it: your portfolio analytics, your order management, and how you configure firewalls and deal with batch and file transfers. By bringing them in, we avoided a lot of the pain we definitely would have felt if it had just been us and the vendor.”

At its peak, there were 25 to 30 people on the project, converging three lines of business onto one platform. It produced some confusion, and even a little friction, in the beginning.

“Sure, it was challenging,” says Gregory Nuckowski, leader of the SimCorp team. “There were a lot of moving pieces. There were a lot of stakeholders that needed to be aligned. But having clear direction from the top down was critical to our collective success.”

Healy made sure to keep in conversation with his portfolio managers and traders before and during the implementation. He wanted their input, and just as importantly, he wanted them to feel like their input was valued. Their recommendations would help shape the interface and mechanisms of the IBOR, because installing a robust system is only half the battle. If no one uses it, it becomes a robust piece of artwork, untouched above the fireplace. By encouraging the trading desk members to outline their desired specifications, Healy got them to buy into the project as something that would help them do their jobs better. He had no doubt that, without buy-in, they would greet the IBOR’s eventual debut with a sneer before turning back to their trusted spreadsheets.

“IBOR is pretty much a new phenomenon,” says Auditore, a veteran of SimCorp implementations, including at Wells Fargo. “It’s about trying to get your OMS, your client reporting, your performance, and your portfolio accounting on one system, or two at the most. Before that, it was all best-of-breed stuff. You’d end up siloing and have data going across four or five different systems. IBOR gives you all those modules on one platform. They’ve taken in post-trade, compliance, client reporting, performance, and accounting.”

Delayed But Engaged
Assigning all of the involved parties to their appropriate roles took a few months. There was also a small setback regarding a decision to have the SimCorp product run through a third-party application service provider (ASP) environment. The cost was deemed too prohibitive, forcing the Toronto IT team to abandon the ASP plan and host it internally. Configuring other aspects of the platform also proved occasionally trickier than anticipated.

These early delays led to a timeline readjustment. The original go-live target of July 2012, considered aggressive even at the time, was pushed back. Healy says he was always forthright with his bosses about the time commitment involved, so that small setbacks did not significantly disrupt expectations. No one thought it would be done in nine months. Still, he admits, there were times when the staff felt worn down from pushing as hard as it did for as long as it did.

The first major milestone, according to SimCorp’s Nuckowski, was the successful conversion of data off of the legacy platforms. Accounts from the three merged investment firms were onboarded in phases. M&I was first, in January 2013, one year after SimCorp commenced the implementation. Legacy BMO, slightly delayed because of additional OMS testing, came in May 2013. Harris, in September, was last. That marked the end of SimCorp’s official involvement.

From the start of the brainstorming phase, the project took a little less than two years; from the start of the actual implementation it was less than two. Auditore calls that typical for a portfolio accounting system. Since the IBOR should do more than a portfolio accounting system, BMO’s timetable should be considered a win. It helped that, although there were adjustments—for instance, Dimension wasn’t built to handle batch jobs on the 600,000 record files M&I was sending over to be processed—SimCorp did not have to do an excessive amount of customization to its core solution set.

The budget for all BMO projects is divided into a business bucket and an IT bucket. Healy says the business half was under budget, while the IT half was right near target. BMO would not release the final figure, except to call it a “very significant spend.”

Ahead of the Field
“SimCorp is such a massive system that can do so much, you find out what it can do and start adding more things and tweaking what you put in before to improve your organization,” says Auditore.

Sure enough, Healy’s team has been tinkering ever since September, when the vendor and the consultants and most of the internal people packed up their tools and went home. However, just because the IBOR is in live production doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done, and will be for the foreseeable future. For one thing, while a high adoption rate by members of the trading desk is a good thing, it means their suggested adjustments will continue flowing in at a high rate. There were also modules, like for reporting, that were shelved for post-production because they weren’t critical to the basic rollout.

With the core system in place, BMO believes it has improved its efficiency, timeliness, and data quality. The IBOR illuminates not only current positions, but predicts future positions using anticipated corporate actions and reinvestment for short-dated instruments. The back office reports more accurately, the middle office derives more accurate exposure calculations, and the front office makes better trading decisions.

Yet BMO finds itself in a relatively small club. A SimCorp survey of 136 buy-side executives last month revealed that less than half are able to generate intra-day position snapshots. Sixty-three percent said their front, middle, and back offices do not work off a common set of real-time position data. Despite those recognized problems, 58 percent dismissed the possibility of an IBOR initiative in 2014. Many of those who have commenced work on an IBOR are in the early stages, where BMO was two years ago. BMO and Healy have become proselytizers—and guinea pigs—for the technology. An authoritative voice isn’t a bad position to hold. And if that position ever changes, it’ll surely be captured, intra-day, by their new IBOR.

Salient Points

  • BMO Global Asset Management wasn’t a big believer in IBOR as a concept. Its original intent was to figure out a solution to the bevy of systems it inherited from a merger with the investment management arms of M&I Bank and BMO Harris Bank. IBOR was the idea that eventually sprang from that.
  • Its problem-solving session began in January 2011. A year later, it contracted SimCorp to provide it with an IBOR. The first accounts were migrated to the SimCorp Dimension platform a year after that, in January 2013. The last were migrated in September 2013. The asset manager called it a “very significant spend.”
  • The team of 25 to 30 people working on the project at any one time included people from all three banking entities, three IT teams, SimCorp, and at least two consultancies—not to mention the executives and traders that were consulted throughout. It took a few months to get everyone into their proper roles, but once the implementation direction was settled, it moved efficiently.

 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Restored Torah link to faith, history By Peg Quann



Video: 300-Year-Old Torah in Mount Laurel restored - Burlington County Times

Source: http://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/news/local/mt-laurel-synagogue-rededicating-antique-torah/article_a0171bcd-1fb4-50b9-a6bd-ef8b74770fa8.html

Sunday, May 25, 2014

MOUNT LAUREL — More than 50 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed, a scribe penned a Torah scroll, copying onto parchment the sacred scriptures written by Moses that have formed the foundation of the Jewish faith, passed down from generation to generation for more than 3,000 years.

The Torah the scribe wrote in Hebrew lasted two centuries, then survived the Holocaust, hidden away in a Czechoslovakian basement during the atrocities of World War II.

After the war, it found its way across the Atlantic Ocean to a new home at Adath Emanu-El, a reformed Jewish congregation on Elbo Lane, where the 300-year-old Torah was recently restored.

"It's really miraculous," Rabbi Benjamin David said. "It's a testament to faith, continuance. I think it's a symbol of the Jewish people. It shows a level of resilience, fortitude."

On June 3, which marks the beginning of the Jewish feast of Shavuot - a holiday that commemorates Moses receiving the religious instructions from God on Mount Sinai - the Torah will be rededicated at 7 p.m. service.

Adath Emanu-El was formed in Willingboro in 1959 and moved to its current location in 1997. David has been its rabbi since 2012. He wasn't sure how the old Torah came to belong among the six scrolls the community has, but it hasn't been used in services recently because of its condition.

The Torah "has to be in a certain condition to be considered kosher, to be usable, and this scroll hadn't been because of its age, and it was quite worn," David said.

So the Adath Emanu-El community decided to take on the project of restoring the scroll. They brought in Rabbi Moshe Druin, a Torah sofer, or scribe, from Florida who professionally refurbishes old Torahs.

"He has years of training to do this work. He spent a full week going through the Torah letter by letter, touching up those letters, some of which had not been repaired since it was first written most likely 300 years ago. Many of the letters were cracked or crumbling. He did that painstakingly over the course of a long week," David said. "There were holes and tears. He fixed all of that."

Although the exact history of this Torah is not known, David said its style points to an origin in present-day Czechoslovakia.

The Torah is rolled between two wooden posts as passages from it are read throughout the year. As he talked of the Torah, David adorned it with a silver mantle and "crowns" to show that it is of royal heritage, as well as velvet cover before placing it for storage in the "ark" at the front of the synagogue with the other Torahs.

The rabbi said the June 3 service will be "a celebration of community. It honors a past grounded in tradition. I think it will be very special."

Peg Quann: 609-871-8057; email: pquann@calkins.com; Twitter: @pegquann

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Ask Me" on Facebook

Good morning out there, everyone! Yes, it has been a while since I have posted on my own blog. There is no time like the present, right? I will try to keep this one brief, as I am just looking for feedback from the blogosphere.

I recently noticed on Facebook that, on your profile page, you can place an "Ask" box on just about any subject on your profile. For example, in regards to one's relationship status, you can place the "Ask" box rather than listing it (married, divorced, in a relationship, etc.) When you click on the box that says "Ask", it takes to a box as if you are sending a message to the recipient. Within the box, it states as to why you are asking? In most cases, is it not obvious? Is there now a form of social networking shyness that I am not aware of? This is a comment from somebody that is known as "the shy one" of the family.

I will spill a little of my guts here, figuratively speaking. I will admit that I would be interested in meeting one of my Facebook friends. Her relationship status has the "Ask" box. Should I hit the box and submit a brief explanation, or should I just keep it to myself? Without overthinking it too much, one could take it in a couple of different ways. For one, it could like casting a fishing line into the water, and waiting to see if a fish will take the bait. On the other hand, it could be like the deli line at your local supermarket- take a number, and wait your turn.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do? How would you approach this? Thank you for taking the time to read. I wish you a wonderful weekend!


-Bill

Monday, May 12, 2014

Retiring School Chief Grew With The District

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1989-03-29/news/26130162_1_chinnici-small-elementary-schools-middle-school

Posted: March 29, 1989

In 1955, when Joseph A. Chinnici arrived in Delran to teach the sixth grade, he was one of only 12 teachers serving a district of about 250 students. Now the district has more than 185 teachers and about 2,100 students, and Chinnici is the district's superintendent.

But not for much longer.

On June 30, Chinnici will retire after serving Delran for 34 years. Last Thursday the school board named Bernard Shapiro, principal of Haddon Township High, to replace Chinnici. Shapiro, 51, will take over July 16. Chinnici will work part time for the district as a consultant..

"I've seen quite a bit of growth since I've been in Delran," said Chinnici, 55, whose first job out of college was at Delran's Aronson Bell Elementary School. "In fact, when I first came up here, Route 130 was just four lanes, and you had to stop for the cows to cross the road at the Millside Farm, where there's now the shopping center," Chinnici said.

As the school district grew from two small elementary schools to today's five schools, which include a high school and a middle school, Chinnici grew professionally. In 1962, he became principal at Aronson Bell, and in 1965 he became the district's second superintendent.

Chinnici, who was born and raised in Vineland, came to Delran right after graduating from Glassboro State College.

"I decided to make this my home town," said Chinnici. He and his wife, Louise, whom he met while they were students at Glassboro, live in Delran and have raised four children.

In 1975, Delran opened its own high school; Delran students had previously attended Riverside High.

"There was real excitement in building a building and getting what you wanted in that building so that you could do your best," Chinnici said.

Although he said Riverside had provided a good education, he said it was satisfying for Delran to develop its own program.

"We were able to work toward exactly what we thought a high school should provide," he said.

There have been many changes in teaching since Chinnici became an educator, particularly because of the increased involvement of the state.

"Now, there are so many things mandated by legislators. You have to get in all of the things that you must get in, and then you have to squeeze in other things," Chinnici said.

Along with the many mandated programs, Chinnici said Delran has added nonmandated subjects to keep up with the times, such as computer education.

"A lot of the state's ideas are good, but I think they need to do a little bit more research and let the local districts decide what's best for their communities," Chinnici said. "When you have to put in something new, you have to take something out."

Despite such difficulties, Chinnici said that there have been many bright spots during his career, and that his job has had many rewards. "It's particularly wonderful to watch the kids go on and then come back and say what their education meant to them," Chinnici said.

"It's harder for kids to be kids nowadays because of the peer pressure. There are so many influences out there," he said, mentioning drugs, alcohol and sex.

But he said children in Delran are fortunate because "we have a lot of parents working with the schools." In addition, Chinnici does not think problems are as bad as they are often made out to be. In his 34 years as an educator, Chinnici said he gained "a lot of faith in young people," and he continues to trust in that faith.

"You have a lot of good kids, in all the schools, and you often don't hear about that. The good kids are doing things quietly, and I think they'll prevail," Chinnici said.



Another School Chief Steps Down


Source: http://articles.philly.com/1991-04-25/news/25780211_1_shapiro-school-board-public-education
Posted: April 25, 1991

The retirement of Delran School Superintendent Bernard Shapiro has left the local school board, for the second time in two years, advertising for a new superintendent.

On March 8, Shapiro gave notice to the school board that he had decided to retire from the district, effective July 1, after fulfilling two years of a three-year contract he signed in 1989.

"I'm in a position where I can begin another career, and I'm looking forward to that," Shapiro said. "I'm retiring from public education. I want to stay in education, but I won't be working for a local school board - or at least not one in New Jersey."

Shapiro, 52, went to Delran after serving as principal of Haddon Township, Cherry Hill East and Cherry Hill West High Schools.

Shapiro said budget cuts had inhibited him from reaching the "vision of excellence" he had for Delran two years ago.

"I feel some frustration in trying to implement programs that I feel would raise the level of education in Delran," Shapiro said. "I don't want to waste their time or my time. I feel the best thing to do is to step aside."

Shapiro's contract was to end in June 1992, but a clause that says the contract can be broken if the superintendent decides to retire has allowed Shapiro to nullify the agreement.

According to Ronald Napoli, president of the school board, a search committee has been formed to find a successor for Shapiro. He said advertisements, which began earlier this month, had resulted in 12 responses.

"We're looking for someone with strong people skills and with credentials to improve the academic environment," Napoli said. "While we're pleased with our academic and extracurricular programs, we are looking for someone to help us improve on course."



Delran's Superintendent Keeps Soft Spot For Teaching


Source: http://articles.philly.com/1991-08-01/news/25807632_1_assistant-superintendent-mental-math-superintendent-search
Posted: August 01, 1991

Carl Johnson is looking forward to being "the captain of my own ship" when he takes over as superintendent of Delran schools today.

Johnson, 49, the former assistant superintendent of Burlington City schools, was named to replace Bernard Shapiro at the last Delran Board of Education meeting.

Johnson's $75,000-a-year salary in the district is only marginally more than he made as assistant superintendent in Burlington City, a 2,200-student district that is marginally slightly smaller than Delran, with 2,300.

His career in education began as a math and science teacher at middle schools in Bordentown and Moorestown, and included stints as assistant to the Burlington County superintendent of education and as manager of the state Education Department's testing program.

But what he likes is teaching. In Burlington City, he made regular forays into the classrooms to teach.

He said his "mental math" lessons in Burlington City were a hit with third graders. Mental math involves reeling off a string of simple numbers that students must add, subtract, multiply or divide in quick succession, until Johnson tells them to stop. The object is to keep up with him until he asks for the answer.

"Kids stopped me in the hall" in Burlington City to play a round of mental math, Johnson said. He is also proud of a new program that had the students "reading and reading," he said.

Johnson's contact with the students and the fact that he remembered so many of their names were points in his favor during the superintendent search, said Harry Gutelius, Delran school board member.

The school board was looking for a superintendent who had administrative experience, said Gutelius, who chaired the committee that spent about five months narrowing the candidate list from 50 to nine to two. Gutelius, a principal at Washington High School in Northeast Philadelphia, said it was a more rigorous search than usual.

"We did everything we could to try to put together a picture of (Johnson)" Gutelius said.

He assessed Johnson as a "leader. He's sincere, open and honest," Gutelius said. "He tells you what's on his mind."

Johnson used some of the same words to describe himself, as did a former colleague, Stephen Koffler of the Princeton-based Educational Testing Service.

Koffler, who was Johnson's boss in the state Education Department's division of testing programs, described him as a "problem-solver and a fine leader."

Gutelius said that as an educator who himself holds a New Jersey superintendent's certificate, he was "comfortable" with Johnson's selection because of these qualities.

"We look to Carl to take the reins," Gutelius said. "He runs the system, not us."

Johnson has lived in Riverton for 23 years. He has three children, who attended Palmyra High School, and his wife, Lynn, is a marketing consultant.

He is organizer of the Riverton-Palmyra Soccer League for Children, and said he likes to attend school games.

He said his comment at a Burlington City school board meeting that he would have to give up his blue and white City jacket for Delran's brown and gold was not a superficial remark. "I was (at the games) because I wanted to be there," Johnson said.

Sewage May Be A Hurdle For Housing

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1989-12-27/news/26160140_1_septic-systems-dep-approval-patio-homes

Posted: December 27, 1989

While final approval for the 256-unit Ashley Crossing housing development could be granted tomorrow at the Delran Planning Board meeting, getting sewerage permits could be far more tricky, township officials have said.

Ashley Crossing, proposed by Gerard Brothers Inc., of Moorestown, would be an L-shaped development on 50 acres of farm and wooded land on Hartford Road.

Gerard will also need approval from the county planning board, the state Soil and Conservation Board and the sewerage authority.

Without sewerage, a housing development with lots of less than one-third acre is doomed, said Delran Sewerage Authority chairman Jack T. Foster.

"They can't build until we can take their sewerage," said Denis C. Germano, sewerage authority solicitor.

Harry Hansell, Gerard's Ashley Crossing project manager, did not return telephone calls regarding the development.

Delran zoning rules don't allow septic systems on lots smaller than 15,000 square feet, slightly less than one-third acre. Septic systems too closely grouped are considered environmentally hazardous, the Department of Environmental Protection maintains.

But "most developers are hurt by the low-density housing. They want more houses on less land," said planning board Chairman Joseph Otto. Plans call for rowhouses, patio homes, duplexes and quadplexes on lots averaging one- fifth an acre.

Gerard could put in sewerage pipes and hope for expansion of the Delran Sewerage Authority. That hinges on the DEP's approving a plan for increasing the sewage treatment plant by a million gallons a day. Waiting for that approval is "a risky thing," Foster said.

"The state's holding up our ability to expand," Foster said. "We're at a dead end with the DEP. It's just one hell of a hassle."

The authority wants to expand the 1.5 million gallon-capacity plant by a million gallons, Germano said. DEP approval could take up to three years, he added.

If the plan is approved, but the sewerage is not, Gerard has two options. It could hold onto the approval permits - which are good for a year and can be easily renewed - until the sewerage moratorium is lifted.

Or, it could sell the approvals to another developer. One planning official, who asked not to be named, said this is one way developers can benefit from their investments.



Dirty Work Of Cleaning Up


Source: http://articles.philly.com/1990-07-04/news/25899200_1_fines-sewer-plants-clean-water-act
Posted: July 04, 1990

Along the Delaware River in Burlington County, wherever there are towns, plumes of treated sewage fan into the tides that wash this 22-mile stretch of water.

In addition, the sewer plants of other towns empty into the Delaware's major tributaries: the Rancocas Creek, the Pennsauken Creek and smaller streams.

That same stretch of the Delaware is used each weekend by hundreds of boaters, fishermen, waterskiers and bathers. It serves as a water supply for Philadelphia and is the planned source for a huge pipeline that will take water to Camden County.

As long as the sewage that enters the Delaware is properly treated, it is harmless to those using the river, according to environmental officials.

But at times, the sewer plants have dumped wastes into the river that should not have gone there.

In the last two years, state and federal fines against 17 Burlington County communities have amounted to nearly $1 million for past and anticipated violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

In two more years, however, all of those towns are scheduled to make a clean break from their polluting past.

State and federal environmental agencies, employing an arm-twisting program that included the fines and consent orders, have persuaded all of the communities with inadequate sewage-treatment facilities to improve them by 1992. Some of the work is nearly completed. Other improvements are only on the drawing board.

But Richard T. Paull, the state official handing out many of the fines, is pleased with the progress. For example, Maple Shade's new state-of-the-art plant was scheduled to go on line yesterday.

"They (the communities) are committing large sums of money to do these things," said Paull, acting section chief for surface water and sewer-system enforcement for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are working in tandem to pressure communities to clean up their sewerage facilities, and a few municipal officials admitted that they never would have acted if they had not been hit with hefty fines.

"The tactic the state took by laying a fine out gets your attention," said Ralph J. Ragomo Sr., a borough councilman in Riverton, which has paid a $12,500 penalty.

Some municipal officials who have faced stiff penalties from the state and federal agencies have complained they were snared by a bureaucratic paradox: One branch of the DEP delayed their improving sewerage facilities while another imposed fines because their old plants polluted.

Richard D. L. Fulton, a DEP spokesman, said the complaints might be valid.

The efforts of the DEP's enforcement branch and its permitting offices should "coincide," Fulton said, "but they don't always."

Communities can appeal fines (Delran has balked at paying a $30,000 fine), but none has suggested that improved sewage-treatment was not necessary.

Across New Jersey, the state has collected $1.5 million in fines, Paull said. But more important, $1.4 billion has been committed by plant operators to making improvements, he said.

Camden County's municipalities have all agreed to join a countywide system, and no towns have been fined, according to Eugene Callahan, section chief of the DEP's southern bureau of regional enforcement. In Gloucester County, only Greenwich Township was penalized, he said. The other municipalities are already connected to regional sewerage.

Paull explained that municipalities had been given plenty of warning before they were fined. An amendment to the Clean Water Act required sewage-treatment plant operators to meet more stringent discharge standards by April 25, 1977.

That requirement was postponed by Congress until 1982 and again until 1988, and many plant operators thought it would be postponed even further, Paull said.

"But, lo and behold, it wasn't," Paull said. And when the state and federal agencies saw that plant operators were going to fail to meet the standards for 1988, they geared up an enforcement policy to nudge the operators.

In 1987, the DEP began issuing notices of civil penalties and asking the plant operators to sign administrative consent orders agreeing to make improvements. Mobile home parks and school districts that operate treatment plants were subjected to the same pressures.

By July 1, 1988, every Burlington County town, except Delran, that had been put on notice by the DEP had signed either an administrative consent order or a judicial consent order, agreeing to improve its sewage-treatment facilities, Paull said.

And at that time, most had negotiated fines ranging between $1,000 and $85,000. The fines represented past violations of the Clean Water Act as well as the violations that would occur before a new plant could be built or improvements could be made on the existing facilities, Paull said.

Those improvements will take more of the solids out of the effluent and will disinfect the liquid before it is discharged. The cleaner the effluent, the less bacteria there will be in the river, since bacteria naturally multiply to consume the increased organic matter in the water.

"You take raw sewage and discharge it into a body of water, a lot of organisms are going to be needed to break down that stuff, and they're going to need oxygen," Paull said.

If the sewage is treated properly, fewer organisms will feed on it in the Delaware River, and so the river's normal aquatic life faces less competition for the river's oxygen.

Evesham was well along in the process of making improvements to its Elmwood sewage plant when the state slapped it with a $25,000 penalty, said Edward A. Kondracki, solicitor for the township's Municipal Utilities Authority.

"We were caught up in a regulatory delay process," Kondracki said.

"For a long time, the DEP sat on the information we submitted" to prepare for improving the treatment facility, Kondracki said. "There was one point in time they were going to perform a stream modeling study . . . they had agreed in writing," he said. "We waited for about two years for them to complete the study. They never started it. They said they didn't have the funds to do it and that we were to do the study.

"You can tell the people in enforcement all day long that you are in delay because of the regulatory part of it, and for the most part, they don't want to hear about it," Kondracki said.

Willingboro faced a similar problem. It is in the midst of an $11 million upgrading that will be completed in 1991 but that was begun in the 1970s. The township was fined $24,375 by the DEP.

After the township had told the state it wanted to build a sewer plant, the state ordered it to wait until a study was completed to determine whether the municipality should be part of a regional system, according to Harry F. Killian, executive director of the Willingboro Municipal Utilities Authority.

That study, which took until 1985, determined that Willingboro should follow its original plan, Killian said.

Besides setting the town up for a fine, Killian said, state "foot- dragging" cost Willingboro the 75 percent federal financing that was available before the Reagan administration eliminated the funds.

While Evesham and Willingboro were planning, officials in Riverside were putting off the inevitable.

Riverside's sewage-treatment facility was built in the 1940s, and the town knew it needed improvements.

"I guess over the course of the years, Riverside had had probably the lowest sewer rate if not in the United States, (then) in the state of New Jersey," said Robert Renshaw, chairman of the Riverside Sewerage Authority. ''Over the years, they could have increased it to get some kind of reserve to make planned expansion," he said, but the authority did nothing.

In 1987, the authority had to raise its rates, "which we were reluctant to do," to pay for bonds to finance $2 million in improvements that the town had finally decided to make, he said.

When the state imposed an $85,000 fine, Renshaw said, "we were in the process of actually doing what had to be done. It just didn't suit the DEP. They said even though we were upgrading, we still were in violation."

Riverside tried to protest the fine but backed down. "We were held hostage, and we signed" a consent order, Renshaw said. "If we didn't sign, we would have been fined more."

That has been the experience of Delran, according to Jack Foster, vice chairman of the Sewerage Authority.

Foster said that Delran was ordered three or four years ago in Burlington County Superior Court to improve its plant, and that it was attempting to comply. "We've been working on that for three years to try to get DEP approval."

Foster said the state suggested the town pay a $30,000 fine. The town responded by saying it would pay a $5,000 fine and admit no fault. The state then said the fine would be $99,000, he said.

"They create a situation," Foster said, "by taking forever to give us any kind of approval or denials. We go from one department to another department. A guy's sitting across the desk, and you can't talk to him because he's in another department."

Delran is contesting the fine, Foster said, and the township has not signed a consent order. Work on improvements to the existing system is stalled, he said.

Two Burlington County municipalities, Medford Township and Mount Holly, escaped the DEP's first wave of penalties because their treatment plants were meeting water quality standards in 1987. But their luck has run out because they both have begun to violate the standards imposed on their plants.

Compounding the towns' problems, the state has raised the limit on fines the DEP can impose from $5,000 per violation to $50,000. Mount Holly and Medford are negotiating consent orders with the state.

Burlington Township agreed to make improvements on its treatment facilities by 1992, and it paid the DEP a $25,000 fine in 1988, a fact that sits uneasily with John Pinto, the township's director of public works and utilities.

"I think it was ridiculous," Pinto said. "That money could have been spent on upgrading the plant rather than giving $25,000 to the state."

But Pinto conceded that the state's efforts made the township move. ''You're talking millions and millions of dollars to upgrade these plants, and until you're forced to do it, you'll hold off as long as you can."

SEWERS AT ISSUE

Among Burlington County's 40 municipalities, these 17 have been cited for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Some have been fined and have signed consent orders; some are negotiating fines or consent orders.

Burlington City signed consent order with $25,000 penalty.

Burlington Township signed consent order with $25,000 penalty.

Bordentown signed judicial consent decree before 1988 crackdown, no fine.

Cinnaminson signed consent order with $62,240 penalty.

Delran no consent order signed; $99,000 penalty contested.

Evesham signed consent order with $25,000 penalty.

Mansfield Homestead at Mansfield housing development working on consent order.

Maple Shade signed consent order with EPA with $75,000 penalty.

Medford Lakes is negotiating a consent order with DEP.

Medford Township negotiating consent order and $191,250 penalty with DEP.

Moorestown negotiated but has not signed an EPA consent order with $75,000 penalty.

Mount Holly negotiating a consent order and a $490,250 penalty with the DEP.

Palmyra signed consent order with $20,000 penalty.

Riverside signed consent order with $85,000 penalty.

Riverton signed consent order with $12,500 penalty.

Willingboro no consent order but $24,375 penalty.

Wrightstown signed consent order with $7,500 penalty.



Ousted Delran Mayor Reflects, With Disappointment


Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-05-21/news/26011525_1_mayoral-opponents-voters-frustration
Posted: May 21, 1992

Delran Mayor Richard Knight, turned out of office last week by voters after eight years, blames his defeat on voter anger and frustration that he believes should not have been connected with his term. Knight remained combative several days after the election, saying he thought many voters had been influenced by his opponents to connect him with unpopular actions of the Delran Sewerage Authority.

"It's a misunderstanding to link me with it," Knight said Saturday. "It was the issue. I will always believe it was politically motivated."

Knight's mayoral opponents, Sewerage Authority member Jon Hewko and the victor, Tom DiLauro, who is employed by Consolidated Rail Corp., worked to link Knight to the controversy, which centered on a 42 percent rate adopted in February and rescinded in April.

Widespread anti-incumbency sentiment could not have helped Knight, either.

"Some people I talked to just wanted change," Councilwoman Mary Ann Rivell said Monday. Rivell did not run, and her at-large seat went to one of DiLauro's running mates.

"People are angry and frustrated," Knight said. "I still don't believe it's a good time to be an incumbent."

The days since his defeat gave Knight, a marketing executive with American Telephone & Telegraph in Philadelphia, time to reflect on his service as mayor. He said the job became increasingly difficult because of reductions in federal and state financial support. "It's not fun anymore," said Knight, who said he has a deep affinity for politics. "There's a sense of frustration and helplessness that you're not able to do the things that need to be done for your municipality because you don't have the level of support."

Knight lost his position at the hands of the largest voter turnout since 1976. He got 1,049 votes but lost by 113 votes to DiLauro.

Knight's running mates - Councilman Walter Shultz and Ethics Commission Chairman Joseph M. Otto - fell by even larger margins to DiLauro's team of Eileen McGonigle and Anthony Ogazalek Jr. Hewko ran alone and trailed with 718 votes.

Knight, who was a councilman from 1982 to 1984, said of looking back, ''It's a mixed feeling. . . . (I'm) very satisfied about the 10 years I put in as an elected officer and somewhat sad that I won't be able to do things for the township."

"I think it (Knight's defeat) was very deserving," former Mayor James Gaughan, former secretary-treasurer of the Sewerage Authority and a vigorous campaigner against Knight, said Sunday. Gaughan, who was not reappointed by the authority this year, said he thought Knight conspired to force him out and called Knight's last four years in office "a tragedy, because I thought he was a shining light years ago. I think he was a victim of his own arrogance. Some people just can't tolerate power." Many people who have worked with Knight as mayor gave him high marks for effort, accessibility and concern.

"I thought he was a good mayor," Council President Andrew Ritzie said Sunday. "He really and truly had Delran's interests at heart."

Under Knight's administration, Delran became less rural, more suburban.

According to Ritzie, "Dick was looking for the town to expand. He was in favor of promoting business in town . . . mainly to promote the tax base." Ritzie said he thought that Knight had largely succeeded.

Ritzie also credited Knight with arranging for affordable housing in town and attempting to unite residents on both sides of Route 130, which bisects the township. Knight said he was extremely skeptical that DiLauro's administration could follow through on its platform, which includes asking for the resignation of the Sewerage Authority, starting plastic recycling and eliminating health benefits for people appointed to township boards.

But Knight, who sees himself, and is seen, as very competitive, was lacking in follow-through himself this election, some observers say.

"I don't think he really got out and worked hard enough," Jack Foster, Democratic Town Committee chairman, said Monday. "I think he felt sure the people would recognize his services."



Delran Mayor-elect Is Unable To Change Sewerage Authority


Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-06-07/news/26029467_1_authority-member-sewerage-authority-mayor-elect
Posted: June 07, 1992

Delran's Mayor-elect Tom DiLauro was swept into office May 12 on a groundswell of discontent with the present administration, stemming largely from the beleaguered township Sewerage Authority.

Under public pressure, the authority rescinded in April a 42 percent rate increase. But the mistrust lingered, fed by two mayoral challengers - DiLauro and Jon Hewko - who made the controversy their top campaign issue.

Following his 113-vote victory over eight-year incumbent Richard Knight (who has sought a recount), DiLauro fulfilled a campaign promise election night by calling for the resignation of all five authority members.

Pledge discharged, nothing has changed since. The authority remains firmly intact.

Willing to resign? "Of course not," member Jack Foster said. "Right in the midst of building a new (treatment) plant? That would be the most stupid thing to do."

Foster was referring to an estimated $10 million plant expansion made necessary by the 1987 Mount Laurel II agreement. The settlement requires many townships to construct a certain percentage of low- and moderate-income housing.

The authority is racing to acquire by June 30 various permits and approvals needed to qualify for about $5 million in no-interest loans from the state's

Wastewater Trust Fund, Martin S. Sanders, senior project engineer, said Wednesday.

DiLauro never had the power to go beyond requesting the resignations, officials said. The changes he campaigned for could only come if a majority on the five-member Township Council, which has sole power over appointments, decides not to extend the current members' terms. An authority member also could be ousted if found guilty of corruption.

One member, Chairman Raymond Vranich, will be up for reappointment in February, but Foster is scheduled for reconsideration in February 1997, Council President Andrew Ritzie said.

"He (DiLauro) called for everyone's resignation because it sounded politically powerful, but what's going to go in its place?" said Hewko, an authority member whose platform advocated abolishing the body and privatizing its functions.

Authority member Fran LaMonica said Tuesday, "I just think he was misinformed, and by doing that (advocating resignations), he was misinforming the people."

DiLauro has greeted the authority's resistance with cynicism.

"Let's say I was disappointed but not surprised," DiLauro said Tuesday. ''It's obvious they haven't caught on to what the people of Delran want."

On Tuesday, DiLauro continued making references to Knight's alleged influence over the council's appointments to the authority and hammered away at what he called the authority's mismanagement and lack of concern for ratepayers.

"Let's replace the present authority (with one) that will be responsive to residents and taxpayers," DiLauro said.

DiLauro's win was buttressed by the landslide victories of his running mates, Eileen McGonigle and Anthony Ogozalek Jr. DiLauro said his supporters would have to be patient for opportunities to replace authority members, but it remains a mystery whether he will have the votes needed to make changes.

McGonigle and Ogozalek are registered Republicans, as is DiLauro. Henry Shinn, the council's only Republican now, said Tuesday he would not be taking sides.

Council President Ritzie said DiLauro is "going to find out that he doesn't have the kind of latitude people believe you have."

Litter Collectors Find Treasure Among The Trash In Delran

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1990-04-25/news/25915995_1_roadsides-township-medical-explorers

Posted: April 25, 1990

More than 200 Delran residents, many of them teenagers or younger, ignored a persistent drizzle and deployed across the township Saturday morning to rid parks, fields and roadsides of bottles and cans, plastic and styrofoam, metal and wood scrap, and enough appliances to furnish a small housing development.

The young people, joined by Mayor Richard S. Knight and a platoon of township officials, did their part to prepare for Earth Day and in the process learned a lot about the private lives of their neighbors:

* The beverage of choice among Rancocas Creek fishermen is Bud Light, which won the Bridgeboro Point empty-bottle competition over full-strength Budweiser, Kasser's vodka and Guinness Stout.

* Partying teenagers share the piney woods south of Lake Lonnie with headless animals, including rats and at least one dog.

* And at Millbridge Shopping Center, it isn't just fast-food wrappers that are thrown to the wind. It's also money.

By 8 a.m. volunteers were assembling at the Public Works garage on Chester Avenue. There, township clerk Bernadette Porreca, Council President Walter Shultz and First Ward representative Madeleine Horchak joined volunteers taking names and issuing official T-shirts and painters caps while recycling coordinator Robin Bartok dispatched young workers throughout the community.

A mile east in the township's Bridgeboro section, Judy Carroll, vice president of the emergency squad at Delran Fire Company No. 2, led nine teenage Medical Explorers and leaders in trash-policing the popular fishing area off Rancocas Avenue.

The Explorers found concrete and asphalt construction waste, a television set, an air conditioner and galvanized ductwork. They separated the debris by category in township-supplied bags and buckets, leaving it by the roadside under a township sign that said NO DUMPING.

"We're going to furnish a house with this stuff," said Explorers adviser Peggy Cossette-Bauer of Antietam Drive.

On the Rancocas, not all the pollution was on land. Iridescent patches of oil eddied upstream, products of a Friday morning kerosene spill. At water's edge, two unsmiling state workers in yellow Department of Environmental Protection slickers stared out at a boat crew adjusting oil-trapping booms and oil-absorbing sweepers.

As the Explorers cleared the creekside of litter, 33 Cub Scouts and parents fanned out to clean up an area where they will camp next week along Lake Lonnie and Swedes Lake near the township's north end.

"My mom said not to get dirty," said Stefan Miller, a second grader at Millbridge School and a Wolf Scout in Pack 17.

"Look what I got!" said his brother Kris, a Millbridge fourth grader and Pack 17 Webelo. "It's a rat's head! It's got orange teeth!" Other Cubs announced further finds of rodent parts and the headless body of a dog in dark stands of pine along the lakes' southern margin.

"It's teenagers, always messing around," said Frank Seazzuso, a third grader at Cambridge Elementary School, as he and buddy Vic Veston dragged a Lamon Associates for-sale sign to the lakes' Fifth Street entrance.

Neighbors of the Millbridge Center encountered less exotic but more profitable debris while bagging fast-food containers behind the center on Route 130. Auto body shop owner Fred Perkins found a $7 U.S. government food stamp. "Nice to see what our taxpayers' dollars are buying," he said.

His son Ryan, who attends nursery school in Moorestown, found $20 in a battered K mart cash register. Ryan happily ripped out circuit panels in search of more.

Knight returned to the Public Works garage from a soda run to find Riverside Police Detective Michael G. Carroll pitching tree stumps from his pickup truck. Knight and Shultz joined in dumping the wood into Ray Grabert's front-end loader, which dropped it into a Winzinger Inc. dumpster, rented at half price for the occasion. (Dumpsters from Kohlbrenner Inc. of Hainesport and Super-Kwik of Voorhees were loaned free.)

At day's end, the flushed and happy Bartok and township manager Jeffrey Hatcher estimated that four dumpster-loads of metal, a dozen loads of scrap and construction wood and five loads of mixed trash had been collected at a state-paid cost of less than $5,000, part of which went to Boy Scout Troop 17, Cub Scout Pack 17, Girl Scout Troop 49, Brownie Troop 57, the Holy Cross High School Ecology Club and the student group Drugs and Alcohol Are Dangerous (DAAD), which is active at Delran and Holy Cross High Schools.

"We missed our Saturday cartoons," said 8-year-old Lauren Derlin, who, with Troop 57's other 11 members, sacrificed Beetlejuice to clean the township's Faunce Field.

But it was worth it, said Lauren, the subject of intense environmental indoctrination, including a grade-school poster contest and promotions by local businesses. "Mrs. Bartok told us everything's recyclable. We've been throwing away too much."

Friday, May 09, 2014

Delran School Board Backs 31 Layoffs

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-04-06/news/25981407_1_bus-drivers-school-board-board-members

Posted: April 06, 1993

DELRAN — An overwhelmingly pro-union crowd of about 200 people did not deter the school board last night from approving a $17.2 million 1993-94 budget that eliminates 31 bus-driving, maintenance and custodial jobs.

The proposal to lay off 20 unionized district bus drivers and replace them with a contracted bus service brought speaker after speaker to the podium in protest. Only a few people spoke in favor of the move, which the board said would save $280,000 annually.

"I'm a former bus driver" now, said Robert Chambers.

Some speakers argued that firing bus drivers would hurt safety and expose children to strangers.

Contracting with an outside company "would mean losing control (over hiring), having strangers in the halls," said Marge Guessman, president of the Delran Education Association, which represents the laid-off workers.

Board members countered that Eagle Wolfington, the bus company the board has hired for $613,000, has a better safety record and better equipment than the district.

"I for one have no trouble with subcontracting if we can save money," said Anne Marie Lorenzen, a parent of two students.

A petition with 600 signatures opposing the change was presented to the board.

"We feel very confident it (safety) will not be compromised," said Board President Ron Napoli.

In addition to the bus drivers, 11 custodial and maintenance workers would be laid off and replaced with a janitorial and a landscaping company, a move the board said would save $105,000.

The budget would increase the property-tax rate from $1.25 to 1.28 on each $100 of assessed property value, an increase of 2.4 percent. The owner of a home assessed at the township average of $130,000 would pay $1,664, up $39 from this year.

The spending plan is slightly higher than last year's budget of $17.06 million.

During the discussion over the bus drivers, a furor erupted when Guessman tried to turn the podium over to Steven Swetsky, a consultant from the New Jersey Education Association, so he could present figures allegedly showing it would cost more to hire outsiders.

Napoli would not allow Swetsky to speak and called for the vote.

Delran Students, Parents Get Lesson On Evils Of Abuse Big Al Is A Man With A Message. "Do Hugs, Not Drugs," He Says. He Only Wishes More Were Listening.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-05-30/news/25963776_1_big-al-substance-abuse-alcohol-problems

Posted: May 30, 1993

DELRAN — "Big Al," his taut 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame illuminated under a bright Delran High School auditorium light, was disappointed at the turnout.

"I guess this goes to show why our problems in communities and schools are (increasing) . . . because of the apathy of parents," he said to about 200 students and parents seated in the auditorium.

After two days of preaching his highly emotional "Do Hugs Not Drugs" message to Delran's middle and high school students, Big Al - his real name is Al Szolack - had invited parents to join their children in a large support- group session May 18 to air problems and bridge emotional gaps. Szolack, a Mullica Hill resident and former professional basketball player, had spoken to 900 parents and students here three years ago.

"I had to get that off my chest," he said, microphone in hand.

Then he proceeded with his talk.

The introduction embodied Szolack's aggressive style, which explodes upon a rapt audience. Honesty, confrontation and resolution are some of the bywords of Do Hugs Not Drugs, which he founded six years ago not long after overcoming his own seven-year encounter with drug and alcohol abuse.

Szolack, who gives out hugs the way professionals distribute business cards, named his one-man show Do Hugs Not Drugs because it was a stranger's hug and a compassionate ear that saved his life, he told the group.

Do Hugs Not Drugs also stresses communication, affection and self-esteem.

While school officials and students said substance abuse was not a major problem in suburban Delran, a small stream of teenagers vented their deepest pains before the group.

The night before, a frustrated 14-year-old student at Delran Middle School had learned that the father she had sought out for the last three years had been racked by drug and alcohol abuse.

"It's not worth getting into drugs, because it's going to hurt you in the long run," the eighth grader told a silent audience.

As he did with every speaker, Szolack stood behind the student and placed his large hands on her shoulders.

Delran High School junior Amy Hullings, 17, had a message for her brother John, 19, a senior who acknowledged having alcohol problems but who said he was turning his life around with the help of Big Al.

"I just want him to know I love him," Amy Hullings said before breaking down in tears.

"There's a lot of pain," Szolack said. "My program allows them to feel. That's why it's so successful."

Do Hugs Not Drugs has been presented at many New Jersey schools and places as distant as Bloomington, Ind., and Tulsa, Okla. The newly formed Community Liaison Committee, a group of residents and township and school officials, received $2,000 from Frito-Lay Inc. to bring the program to Delran.

Starting in September, Szolack will be paid from funds raised by local businesses and residents to conduct monthly counseling sessions with students as he is already doing in Hammonton, Lenape, Shawnee and Haddon Heights, committee member Barbara Clauser said.

Delran High principal Michael Gallucci said Do Hugs Not Drugs was a useful message that had to be put into perspective.

"I don't think we have any major drug or alcohol problem," Gallucci said. ''I think we're very fortunate. Perfect, no."

Mary Anne Edwards, who lost her 18-year-old son, Kenneth, to a drug overdose in 1991, was the only parent to speak.

"I never knew he was doing drugs," she said. "If any of you kids are doing drugs, please don't do them."

Audience members found the program emotionally trying but worthwhile.

"You also feel bad for them (victims) because you know what kind of pain they're in," said Delran senior Ron Vandermark.

"He gets right into your heart," Vandermark said of Szolack.