The hilarity never stops with these bankers. See, now that the taxpayers have bailed their sorry asses out of bankruptcy court, it turns out that they are, to use the NY Times’s words, “balking at the hefty premium they agreed to pay when they took the money.” Some of the healthier banks want to pay back their bailout loans to avoid executive pay and other restrictions that come with the money…. Both large and small banks have pressed the Obama administration to make it less costly for them to exit the bailout program by waiving the right to exercise stock warrants the banks had to grant the government in exchange for the loans. And this guy is a comic genius: Douglas Leech, the founder and chief executive of Centra Bank, a small West Virginia bank that participated in the capital assistance program but returned the money after the government imposed new conditions, said he complained strongly about the Treasury Department’s decision to demand repayment of the warrants. That effectively raised the interest rate he paid on a $15 million loan to an annual rate of about 60 percent, he said. “What they did is wrong and fundamentally un-American,” he said. [...]
Here is the link: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes…. Note that this is part of the New York Times attempt to move beyond print. I would love critiques as to its effectiveness, and whether this tactic would work for the Boston Globe.
The Massachusetts Public Health Council, an appointed board of academics, physicians, and service providers, recently voted to place a costly unfunded mandate on financially-stressed public school districts. According to the Boston Globe (April 9, 2009)
Starting in the fall, public schools across Massachusetts will send reports home to parents alerting them if their child weighs too much or too little – the centerpiece of a campaign to shrink bulging waistlines and halt obesity-related diseases once rare in children.
The childhood screenings, modeled after initiatives in Arkansas and New York City, won unanimous approval yesterday from the state’s Public Health Council, an appointed board of doctors, academics, and service providers.
Students in the first, fourth, seventh, and 10th grades will be measured and weighed so school health officials can calculate their body mass index score, a standard measurement used to gauge the appropriateness of someone’s weight.
The initiative will be phased in during the next two school years, with more than 286,000 students expected to undergo evaluation before the end of the 2010-2011 academic year. The letters issued to parents won’t just be a scorecard, state authorities promised; they will provide suggestions on where to turn for help.
This unfunded mandate, gift-wrapped in a good idea, drew an immediate response from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. The Globe reported:
Still, in the hours after health regulators embraced the screenings, the message board of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees lighted up with concerns.
Will this further fray school budgets already sorely stretched, some writers wondered. Is this another example of schools assuming responsibilities that are truly the province of parents, another asked.
“Our list-serve has been going off the hook here about this,” said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the school committee group, who counted 22 messages in two hours. “Everyone is concerned about obese children, obviously. But the general concern on the list-serve is around cost, around another unfunded mandate.”
Matt Taibbi has declared Obama’s honeymoon over. He says all the Goldman Sachs alumni that Obama has put in place are funneling huge amounts of money to GS. That’s our money, by the way. GS has gotten so much of it that they have reported a profit for Q1 of 2009. Taibbi is particularly annoyed at Obama for promising during his campaign to have no lobbyists in his administration, then letting Geithner name Mark Patterson his chief of staff, when Patterson was a registered lobbyist (for guess who?) less than a year ago.
In my mind this officially ends the Obama honeymoon. I can maybe see one or two of these creeps in key positions. But this many – it’s an undeniable pattern. He put William Lynn, a former Raytheon lobbyist, in the Pentagon as Deputy Defense Secretary. A lot of people squawked about Obama’s early lean towards John Brennan as CIA director because of his role in establishing the “enhanced interrogation” policies, but to me more significant was the fact that Brennan was the former chair of INSA (Intelligence and National Security Alliance), which is sort of like the Chamber of Commerce of intelligence contractors. Most importantly, I’m sensing in these economic appointments a kind of drearily cynical parsing of the approval-rating situation here – Obama knows he’s still flying high with the “Yes We Can!” t-shirt crowd, and knows that most people simply are not going to give a shit if he packs his Treasury Department with Goldman alums and lobbyists, despite the fact that he explicitly promised to do otherwise.
As a Boston resident, I'm always proud to see great events happening around the city – and across the state. But shouldn't those events – especially those that bring in tourist dollars – benefit our cities? In an Op-Ed in Wednesday's Globe, James Rooney, Director of Public Affairs at the Boston Foundation, and Elaine Dandurand Beattie, Vice President of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau explain how the “anachronistic relationship” between Massachusetts and its municipalities make Sail Boston more of a cost than an opportunity for the city. Their report, “Home Field Disadvantage” found that: …due to excessive state restrictions on its ability to maintain a balanced revenue stream, the City of Boston not only did not gain revenue from hosting the 2007 playoff games, it actually lost revenue due to limited receipts and incurring costs that were not fully reimbursed. In contrast, the City of Denver, which boasts a wide range of local options with which to generate revenue, gained revenue from hosting the games. These two cities had very different experiences when it comes to benefiting from a major event held in their city. After calculating tax receipts, reimbursements and expenses, the City of Denver gained $940,365 from hosting [...]
How many MBTA administrators does it take to change a light bulb: five, one to change it and four former lightbulb changers to be rehired as consultants to help manage the process. From Daniel Kurtzman: “This week, President Obama attended what was either the G-20 summit or his high school reunion. I haven’t seen old white dudes this excited about meeting a black guy since Michael Jordan’s fantasy camp.” –Seth Meyers “But if you’re looking for gift ideas for foreign leaders, you should check with the State Department and not Sasha and Malia. And while we’re at it, Queen, a picture of yourself is not a good gift. Let’s try to remember, you’re world leaders, not Secret Santas.” –Seth Meyers “Conservatives aren’t happy with Obama because he basically fired the CEO of General Motors, and they said he’s interfering with private industry’s ability to run our country into the ground.” –Bill Maher “First Lady Michelle Obama is a huge hit in England. There was a bit of controversy when she put her hand on the Queen’s back. The Queen took it as a gesture of friendship, but I think Michelle went a little too far when she tried to feed [...]
On the front page of today’s Globe, we read MBTA plans for drastic cuts in bus, rail service. Inside, Andrea Estes writes MBTA rehired retired officials. Rebuilding our transportation infrastructure is the number one priority of this administration. The MBTA — now in its death-quivers — is a huge piece of the problem James Aloisi was re-hired to solve. It’s nice to know that he will allow these sweetheart contracts “to expire”. That’s what I call a real iron fist. Don’t get THAT guy mad. Not.
From the front-page piece:
The MBTA would halt all evening and weekend commuter rail service, eliminate six Green Line stops, discontinue lightly used bus routes, and lay off 805 employees if the agency does not get legislative help with its $160 million deficit, according to a state document.
From the inside piece:
Four MBTA officials who retired under the agency’s generous pension plan were then rehired under contracts to do their old jobs, earning large consulting checks even while they continued to receive their full pension payments, according to public records.
One of the officials worked as a government affairs coordinator and legislative liaison, a job that put him in close contact with lawmakers including House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo.
It is time for a reboot. Shut it down. Kill it. Now. Don’t threaten, do. If it means filing bankruptcy for the MBTA or the Commonwealth, then file. Pay whatever penalties need to be paid.
Good God, they spend months telling us how much more in tolls and gas taxes we need to pay in taxes, and then we get this? I’m so happy that the legislature is considering raising the retirement age for the T to 55. That is a big help, and should convince us all that the government is spending the money it takes from us wisely. Also, makes the attitudes expressed here a bit embarassing in retrospect, or should. Really, the only solution to the thieving fiasco that is our state government is to have many, many more Republicans in the legislature. It is enough to make one weep that this is so far from a possibility that the lunatic Greens have nearly as good a shot of becoming a major opposition as the GOP. Which means that government will remain as corrupt as ever, providing just enough “services” for our money to keep us from storming Beacon Hill, and when problems like this come to light from time to time, the individuals will be hastily fired, and the problem will be described by Democrats as an “isolated incident.” But they aren’t isolated.
(Cross posted on Blue News Tribune and Blue Hampshire.) Enact this short list of proposals immediately: 1. No more “news analysis.” You make that something reserved for the truly complex: credit default swaps, the federal budget, or the intricacies of Iraqi politics, for example. 2. No more seven-part series, on anything. The Kerry series made sense, when he was running. The Romney one made less sense, because he didn’t have a prayer. The Ted Kennedy one was a nice idea. Now we’re done with those! 3. More “only a newspaper can do this” stories. The classic example, and I am not the first to point this out, is Charlie Savage’s “signing statements” story. Savage went and read the legislation. That is good use of your resources. 4. Fewer columnists. You don’t have to fire anybody; make them reporters. 5. Strive for objectivity. No, really. You don’t even try. Try. 6. Make the sports writers cover the sports, not just the Boston teams. During Manny flareups last year, we got blanket coverage for three or four days. Not what fans want; you end up competing with sports blogs, a niche. Instead, tell us what’s going on in the rest of the [...]