Archive for March, 2011
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By William D. Duncan,
Updated 4:28 PM Thursday, February 10, 2011
Members of City Council, City staff and citizens of Oakwood:
Why does Oakwood continue to be The Premier Residential Community in the Dayton and Miami Valley Region? It is simple. It is our neighborhoods, our schools and library, city services, public safety, recreation and leisure; but most of all it is our citizens.
Whether it is a Normandy Contemporary on Park Road, a Cape Cod on Oakwood Avenue, an English Cottage on Orlando Terrace, a historical farmhouse on Wiltshire Boulevard or a Craftsman Foursquare on Wisteria Drive, we have outstanding diversity in housing choices.
Two homes bear special mention this year. Hawthorn Hill was featured in the January 2010 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. Former Oakwood resident Dave Bohman remarked I have lived in several communities in the United States but have never encountered the hometown feeling of Oakwood, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. The feeling of community and the beauty of the homes are unmatched. Oakwood was also the home of Orville Wright for most of his adult life, and his mansion on Hawthorn Hill is now a national historic landmark. A visit to the Wright Memorial Public Library is a must. Look at the plaque inside the front door and you will see the names of the board members who got the library built in 1939. When you see Orville Wright, Vice President and consider the mans accomplishments, you realize how proud you are to have been a part of Oakwood and say it was your hometown.
In June, Mission Manor, a Colonial Revival home on East Schantz Avenue was chosen the 2010 Designers Show House by the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association.
Everyone knows Oakwood has great schools, but did you know this about Oakwood schools?
o Oakwood schools have received the top rating of Excellent with Distinction from the State of Ohio since the inception of the rating system.
o Oakwood High School ranked in the top 3 percent nationally and first in the region on Newsweeks 2010 list of Americas Best High Schools.
o The High School Academic Decathlon Team placed first in Ohio and third in the nation in competition in March and April.
o The varsity golf team won its second consecutive Division II state championship.
Wright Memorial Public Library received another 3 star rating as one of Americas Star Libraries. The award was based on circulation, number of visitors, program attendance and internet usage.
The city services offered to Oakwood residents are unsurpassed. We continue to provide weekly backyard trash collection, year-around curb collection of yard waste, fall leaf collection and spring mulch delivery and sidewalk snow removal. We were honored as a Tree City USA for the 28th consecutive year. Our Johnny Appleseed program has planted over 2,500 trees in Oakwood since the inception of this program. We commend the efforts of our 32 member public works department during the recent ice storm. Their service under dangerous conditions kept our streets clear and our citizens safe.
Formed in 1927, our 36 member public safety department is the second oldest consolidated department in the United States. It is unique because all our officers are cross-trained and state-certified in law enforcement, fire fighting and emergency medical services. Our police response time is two minutes. Our fire response time is 4.7 minutes; the national standard is 6 minutes. Our medic response time is 3.9 minutes; the national standard is 13 minutes. After reviewing over one hundred applications, the City hired five new public safety officers to replace officers who retired or resigned in 2010. We now have the finest group of public safety officers in recent memory.
Where else will you find in a community of 2.2 square miles the parks and green space offered in Oakwood? We offer three neighborhood parks, Shafor Park, Orchardly Park and Fairridge Park.
Our natural areas include Loy Gardens, Elizabeth Gardens, Houk Stream and Centennial Park.
Our recreation facilities include the Oakwood Community Center and Gardner pool, Creager field, Irving field, Old River fields and Mack Hummon Stadium.
In June, Oakwood City Council adopted an Athletic/Recreation Master Plan. With the help of a 25 member Athletic/Recreation Master Plan Committee, city staff, outside consultants and significant public input, we have a guide for operations, maintenance and capital improvements of Oakwoods athletic and recreation facilities for the next five to 10 years.
In December, Vickie Gearhart retired from our Leisure Services Department with 37 years of public service. She will be missed.
Oakwoods strength is its people. Just consider some of the events in which our citizens participated in 2010.
o In January, several hundred people attended the 7th annual Kettering-Oakwood Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast.
o In April, over 150 volunteers participated in a cleanup of the Acorn corridor sewer access road.
o In May, over 800 walkers participated in the 9th Annual Breast Cancer 5K CARE Walk. The event raised over $17,500 to support a cure for breast cancer.
o That Day in May, sponsored by the City and the Oakwood Rotary Club continued the tradition of the pancake breakfast, 5K and 10K runs, community parade, games, rides, refreshments and displays. This year included a car show.
Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) — A Lebanese bank has denied accusations by the US Treasury Department that it is involved in laundering hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of a drug kingpin — and rejected claims it has links with Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militia.
On Thursday the Treasury described the Lebanese Canadian Bank in Beirut as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern. The Treasury said it had reason to believe that managers at the bank were complicit in money laundering by Ayman Joumaa, an alleged trafficker accused by US authorities of shipping drugs from South America to Europe and the Middle East through west Africa.
The Treasury also said its action in designating the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) exposed links between the bank and Hezbollah — which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States. Designation means that US persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with individuals listed, whose assets under US jurisdiction are frozen.
US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said: Any financial institution that collaborates in illicit conduct on this scale risks losing its access to the United States.
The banks chairman, Georges Zard Abou Jaoude, told CNN Friday that the bank had no relationship whatsoever with Hezbollah nor to the best of its knowledge with anyone designated by the US Treasury Department. Jaoude said the bank had identified an account in Joumaas name but it had not been used in four years. It had notified Lebanese regulators about the account, and the banks books had been regularly inspected by the Special Investigation Commission, a Lebanese task force set up to counter money laundering.
The Treasury said Joumaas network launders hundreds of millions of dollars monthly through accounts held at LCB, as well as through trade-based money laundering involving consumer goods throughout the world. In its statement issued Thursday, the Treasury estimated that as much as $200 million was being laundered on a monthly basis. At least one of the individuals involved in this global drug trafficking and money laundering network has worked directly with LCB managers to conduct his transactions, the Treasury said.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration, which was also involved in the investigation, said: The Lebanese Canadian Bank for years has participated in a sophisticated money laundering scheme involving used cars purchased in the United States and consumer goods overseas.
The Treasury said the banks links to Hezbollah included a subsidiary in Gambia called Prime Bank, formed in 2009, which it said was partially owned by a Lebanese individual known to be a supporter of Hezbollah.
Jaoude told CNN the bank rigorously adhered to all blacklists published by financial authorities around the world. He said the bank had not been contacted in advance by the US Treasurys Office of Foreign Assets Control before Thursdays announcement and he was urgently trying to contact US authorities. All our books are open to the American Treasury, Jaoude said. We have to clear our name, he said.
In its most recent annual report, the bank said it is fighting money laundering by complying with international and [Lebanese] Central Bank circulars.
The Lebanese Canadian bank has 35 branches in Lebanon, as well as its subsidiary in Gambia and an office in Canada. The bank has grown quickly in recent years, from assets of $2.83 billion in 2005 to $5.18 billion in 2009.
Ayman Joumaa was designated in January — along with nine individuals and 19 entities connected to his drug trafficking and money laundering. A Treasury statement said he coordinated the transportation, distribution, and sale of multi-ton shipments of cocaine from South America and has laundered the proceeds from the sale of cocaine in Europe and the Middle East, according to investigations led by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Joumaas whereabouts are unknown. He is believed to hold Lebanese and Colombian passports.
One of the entities designated along with Joumaa was a company that runs a used car business in Benin and Congo out of southern Lebanon. Its manager, Iman Kharoubi, told Lebanons Daily Star last month: We work in Lebanon and Congo and Benin in Africa. But we do not know who Ayman Joumaa is; we dont have anything to do with him. CNNs attempts to reach Kharoubi were unsuccessful.
For several years, US authorities have alleged that Hezbollah is profiting from drug trafficking from South America to Europe via west Africa. In June 2008, the US Treasury Department designated two Venezuelans of Lebanese descent as Hezbollah financiers and supporters.
Several benefits accompany running a business from home especially when it comes to tax deductions. But the rules governing home-based business deductions arent always easy to understand, and they require good record keeping.
If you own and operate a business from your home, it would pay to learn all you can about home-based business tax deductions. Here are a few places on the Web that offer such information:
* Bankrate.com: Discusses requirements for home-office deductions. bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/work-from-home-deduct-your-home-office.aspx
* CompleteTax.com: Covers range of home-office deduction topics, including qualifying for the deduction and home-office depreciations. completetax.com/taxguide/text/c60s15d370.asp
* Financial Web: Spotlights tax tips for home offices and links to IRS forms. finweb.com/taxes/tax-tips-for-home-based-business-owners.html
* Investopedia: Serves up criteria for making home-office tax deductions. investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/home-office-tax-deduction.asp
* Work.com: Provides guide to home-office deductions, with action steps, tips and tactics. work.com/home-office-tax-deduction-373/
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LONDON (Reuters) – These days it is easy to find an all-inclusive holiday, where all travel, accommodation, food, drink, entertainment and activities are included in one price. Online travel advisors travelsupermarket.com (www.travelsupermarket.com)…
That might feel like a stiff breeze winter breeze youre shielding yourself from this morning, but its really just the chilly, collective sigh of relief from multiplex owners who finally have some desirable movies to show their patrons. Desirable being relative, of course, but still: For the first time in 2011, some significant opening-weekend money will be changing hands. But of the weeks four (!) new releases, who stands the best shot of taking first place? To the Forecast!
middot; Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: On the one hand, at least from the executive level, its among the most cynically conceived movies in Hollywood history. On the other, well, apparently the docu-concert flick is halfway decent, even good. To which I say, huzzah! We need more good movies or more interesting movies, anyway. But the teen-pop heartthrobs cinematic breakthrough (in 3-D, no less) remains pinned beneath the estrogen layer of our planets atmosphere, a one-quadrant quasi-blockbuster that was made to open and open big. I mean, this kid may be over with before the movie even hits DVD; neither legs nor long tail are the anthropomorphic metaphors Id ascribe to this sucker. Nevertheless, I like its 3-D chances to hurdle over Grandpa Sandler in the final tally, and by more than anyone thinks. FORECAST: $35.7 million
middot; Just Go With It: So this happened: Adam Sandler roped in no less than Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman as supporting players in his tale about a guy who pretends something married fake family Brooklyn Deckers rack Dennis Dugan directs etc. Michelle Oranges review really does say it all, and quite exquisitely to boot. All I care about at this point is the opening, and all I can really tell you about that is that of Sandler and Dugans six collaborations to date, only one 1996s Happy Gilmore opened below $30 million. But! None have been released within a year of each other until Grown Ups (their second-highest opening at $40 million) and this one, so this is probably less a test of their combined box-office muscle than a test of how quickly audiences can chew and digest mouthfuls of Sandugan Inc.s factory-farm gristle. I think theyll see a dip, Aniston notwithstanding. FORECAST: $31.6 million
middot; Gnomeo amp; Juliet: I know, I know CGI garden gnomes do Shakespeare for the whole family, with songs by Elton John. Whats the harm? Well, CGI garden gnomes do Shakespeare, for starters. I could see this working in an R-rated context with Ricky Gervais and Lucy Punch voicing the doomed Veronans, but come on. CGI garden gnomes do Shakespeare! Stephanie Zacharek has the low (low) down, and even the younger girls Disney is hoping to attract to this one will be puking with glee in the Bieber auditorium next door. Not optimistic. FORECAST: $13.8 million
middot; The Eagle: This one appears to have maybe gotten away from Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald: Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell star as a pair on a quest to retrieve the lost, titular object and avenge Tatums fathers death in the uglier days of the Roman empire. Fighting, despair, vague homoeroticism and much grime ensue, all under a PG-13 rubric that will probably make you wish youd just rented the grittier, nastier (ie more realistic) Centurion instead. Anyway, theyre pushing it out to 2,500 or so theaters, which shouldbe enough to crack $10 million, maybe a little better. FORECAST: $10.7 million
middot; The Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Help bolster your Oscar-pool odds with a trip to take in this years Oscar shorts 15 films in live-action, animated and documentary categories that historically prove to be heralds of fantastic new talent and, of course, the edge you need when trying to come out on top on awards night. For the record, God of Love is presently favored in live-action; its director, Luke Matheny, will drop by Movieline later today with his peerless selections for Valentines Day viewing that wont leave you in a diabetic coma/apoplectic fury/crying jag. Check them out.
middot; Cedar Rapids: Fox Searchlight kicks off its platformed release of Ed Helms kicking off his own leading-man career, starring as a naive, sheltered Wisconsin insurance guru who travels to a convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, only to tumble into one debauch after another. Anne Heche, John C. Reilly, Isaiah Whitlock and Alia Shawkat co-star; no one is quite over the moon about it, but the film has its following coming out of Sundance and will fare reasonably well on 15 screens. Look for more to come here as the release widens.
middot; Orgasm Inc.: Hey ladies! They made a movie about your orgasm! Liz Canners documentary about Big Pharmas quest to diagnose and commodify the mythical female sexual dysfunction was years in the making and not necessarily in a good way, as its cheese-comic visual elements suggest when attempting to tie together the true 30- or 40-minute heart of the film. But when its on, its really on, from exposing the connections between widely cited studies and the pharmaceutical companies that helped fund them, calling out the genital mutilation better known as vaginal rejuvenation, and showcasing the grassroots lobby against these and other lady-travesties. Come (ahem) for the shocking deployment of something called the orgasmatron; stay for the transfixing images of obliterated sexual-enhancement pills beneath the closing credits. [NYC and Chicago only; more cities forthcoming throughout April]
ALBANY, GA. — Albany City Manager Al Lott announced late Monday afternoon that effective immediately the Albany Civic Center and Municipal Auditorium will come under the Albany Recreation and Parks Department headed by Suzanne Davis.
Lott says the move makes the most sense and will save taxpayers approximately $40,000 a year. “Davis and her deputy director will manage and provide direction to that division of that department and provide executive leadership that they need. I expect that the efficiencies that are in the Recreation Department will be transposed to that division and they’ll be more efficient and more effective and more responsible for taxpayer’s monies and issues” says Lott.
Davis says she has already has a plan of action. “Initially we’re going to look at their organizational structure and what their bringing in their vision and their mission and that’s our goal for the next 8-10 days. We want to get a feel of what they have to offer and have in comparison to what we can provide on our side” says Davis.
Officials say they don’t expect to pull in huge shows right away because they have to be realistic and get the right shows for the right venues. “The Harlem ballet was sold out, Steve Harvey and the truck pull and those kinds of things do well” says Lott.
Lott says because of the size, number of employees, and large budget; the Parks and Recreation Department will join the Albany Police Department, Fire Department, and Public Works as a “super department”.
Updated and corrected 2/17/11 10:16 am ET
If the cash-strapped US Postal Service wants to save money it should ensure that its workers arent booking pricey hotel rooms and airplane tickets or buying pornography, according to a new watchdog report.
Over a two-year period, some postal workers used credit cards meant for travel and lodging expenses to buy family members flights to Spain and Italy, purchase Apple computers and make more than 50 purchases at adult entertainment stores.
The findings, detailed in a Postal Service Inspector General report, also reveal that USPS didnt cancel 2,491 credit cards issued to former employees, including 53 who were listed as deceased. Two former employees were still using their cards after they left, according to the report.
All told, the mail agency could have saved more than $600,000 in excessive travel costs during fiscal 2009 and 2010 if it had cracked down on non-compliant workers, the report said.
Despite the fraud, the Postal Service cut its travel budget by 17 percent in fiscal 2010 to $94.8 million.
USPS employs 583,000 workers and funds itself through the sale of postal products and services instead of taxpayer dollars. It plans on cutting about $2 billion in costs this year — mostly by eliminating 40 million work hours — but still forecasts a $7 billion loss after losing a record $8.5 billion in fiscal 2010. It warned again this week that it will likely run out of money by the end of the fiscal year after exceeding its borrowing limit with the US Treasury.
The report reviewed 155,104 lodging transactions and found that more than 21,000 exceeded government lodging rates established by the General Services Administration. In one case, a worker claimed 326 nights of hotel bills that exceeded government rates by $17,877. Workers who attended the largest postal customer convention in 2009 and 2010 — mostly mid-level executives and sales personnel based in regional offices and Washington headquarters — collectively exceeded lodging rates by almost $89,000.
The inspector generals office further investigated several cases of employee misconduct unearthed by the investigation and some of the workers were later fired, the report said. Investigators also recommended tighter enforcement of the lodging and travel reimbursement policies and suggested USPS retrain workers on the rules.
Responding to the report, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who closely tracks postal affairs, said she was alarmed by the findings.
It is very frustrating that an organization that was $8.5 billion in the hole last year, has not adopted a frugal culture, she said. The proper controls are not in place to either prevent or uncover frequent credit card abuses.
Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), a normally supportive backer of postal leadership, also expressed concern. Ive told the new postmaster general and his predecessor that he and other top postal executives need to do their part as well, Carper said in a statement. If they are going to ask postal employees and customers to make sacrifices to save the Postal Service, then the postal leadership certainly has a responsibility to set a good example when it comes to frugality and basic financial management. In this case, they have clearly failed.
Officials quoted in the report said they wont retrain workers due to the high costs of doing so, but will closely monitor travel transactions and remind workers of the existing policy. A Postal Service spokesman declined to comment further on the report.
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Small businesses have always played an important role in the US economy. Since the recession, small businesses have taken center stage in discussions about how to create jobs and improve the economy, and they are poised to maintain that position. A large segment of the small business community is made-up of home-based businesses, and they have become more prevalent in the past three years. According to the Small Business Administration, 52 percent of small businesses are home-based. A home-based business is an enterprise that conducts the core of its business activities from a residence.
Locally, the number of registered home-based businesses has grown significantly in the past three years. According to Nielsen-Claritas, Kern County is home to 2,594 home-based businesses. Over the past three years — Great Recession years — the number of home-based businesses in Kern County grew by 332. During the same period, 749 non-home-based businesses closed their doors.
Home-based businesses are found in every industry, but some industries attract a greater number. In Kern County, 38 percent of the trucking businesses are home-based. Likewise, 48 percent of the child day care businesses are home-based. Below is the list of industries with the highest number of home-based businesses.
Top Industries … Number of homed-based businesses
Trucking servicers … 95
Real estate agents and management … 89
Lawn and garden services … 86
Child day care services … 75
Home builder and remodeling constructors … 74
Janitorial services … 72
Business consulting services … 66
Heating and air conditioning contractors … 54
Pool cleaning services … 48
Carpet and upholstery cleaning …47
Auto repairs … 47
Painting contractors … 45
General crop farms … 44
Electrical contractors … 42
Plumbing contractors … 38
Photography services … 37
Pet and animal services … 35
Bookkeeping and accounting services … 25
Roofing and sheet metal work contractors … 25
Insurance agents and brokers … 24
General livestock farms … 23
Concrete work contractors … 23
Legal services … 21
Tax preparation services … 21
Hairdressers … 20
Pest control services … 19
Source: Nielsen-Claritas BusinessPoint (December 2010) and The Bakersfield Californian Market Research Department.
US President Barack Obamas controversial plan to invest in high-speed and intercity rail service over the next six years won the support of the US Travel Association. In a statement, Roger Dow, president and CEO of US Travel said the administrations high-speed rail proposal was a much-needed step toward strengthening the US economy.
Investing in high-speed and intercity rail service is a positive and much-needed step toward rebuilding and expanding the national transportation system and strengthening our economy, Dow said. We should pursue viable and responsible funding mechanisms to help make this happen because transportation is the gateway to job creation in Americas hotels, restaurants, attractions and destinations from coast-to-coast.
The Administration should continue to lead the way in working to spur greater public and private financing of high-speed rail networks that will relieve congestion on regional highway systems, provide travelers with an efficient option and means of reaching their destinations and help protect the environment.
To ensure the nations economic competitiveness, the US should try to ensure that business and leisure travelers alike have affordable options, according to Dow. The US Travel chief said the association was looking forward to working with the administration and new Congress to improve the way transportation was funded, prioritized and designed in the future.
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