Business & Economy
Holding the SEC accountable PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 08:17

COMMENTARY ALERT – You might be interested in a Washington Post blog this afternoon about the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC.  My concern is that the SEC seems to be pursuing the classic, flawed tactic of most bureaucracies, “ignore the message and kill the messenger” when concerns about mismanagement are raised.  Instead, SEC higher-ups need to listen to different points of view from SEC employees in order to avoid the kinds of mistakes the SEC has made in recent years.  The promise of protection for SEC whistleblowers looks like it is being undercut by the reality of retaliation.  You can read the letter I sent to the SEC chairman by clicking here. – Chuck Grassley

Grassley calls SEC response on alleged retaliation 'extremely disturbing'

A senior Senate Republican is calling into question the Securities and Exchange Commission's response to allegations that top officials in the Fort Worth office retaliated against employees who raised concerns about an agency examination program.

Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has asked for a briefing from top SEC officials about the treatment of two employees in the Fort Worth office. The senator wanted to know why that although the inspector general recommended the SEC take disciplinary action against the Fort Worth officials none had been taken.

In a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, Grassley wrote: "These facts and circumstances are extremely disturbing and paint a picture of a culture at the SEC, which endorses retaliation against employees who attempt to improve operations by reporting mismanagement to headquarter."

The letter follows a pair of reports by the SEC inspector general and an article in The Washington Post about the problems at the Fort Worth office.

The Post article cites an SEC inspector general's report that concluded that two SEC employees, Julie Preuitt and Joel Sauer, faced "inappropriate" sanctions from their bosses in Fort Worth when they raised concerns about a new review process for financial firms.

Preuitt, who had warned presciently about a potential scam at R. Allen Stanford's Houston-based business, told superiors she was concerned that the office was more interested in boosting statistics about the number of firms the office examines rather than actually uncovering fraud.

According to inspector general reports and interviews, Preuitt was also essentially demoted after vocalizing her complaints.

Later, the program she opposed was suspended in favor of programs to verify assets claimed by investment companies in the wake of the large number of Ponzi schemes disclosed in the past two years.

Grassley tied to the agency's actions in Fort Worth to its broader desire to attract whistleblowers, who can provide regulators with inside information on wrongdoing.

"You have previously assured me that in leading the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC/Commission), you intend to value whistleblowers and ensure that they are able to make protected disclosures in order to help managers improve operations at the Commission," Grassley said. "However, it appears that this commitment to valuing dissent within the Commission is not being fully implemented."

Grassley asked the SEC to explain why it had not disciplined the Fort Worth managers. The SEC responded:

[P]rior to imposing discipline, the senior-level Ft. Worth managers had solicited advice . . . from other Commission officials responsible for disciplinary actions. It has not been alleged, nor is there any reason to believe, any of the advising parties had reason to retaliate against the two employees. Because the actions were deemed appropriate and senior-level Ft. Worth managers relied on the guidance that was provided, management determined their actions were not retaliatory.

Grassley was not pleased with this response.

"The implication ... is that a retaliatory personnel action can be laundered of its retaliatory intent by simply consulting with others who had no retaliatory intent and obtaining their concurrence," he wrote. "Such a policy would make a mockery of whistleblower protections throughout government."

By Zachary Goldfarb  |  August 30, 2010; 2:59 PM ET

 
Governor Quinn Announces Investment Package to Create and Retain Nearly 400 Jobs at Stericycle PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 30 August 2010 12:10

Investment Will Spur Economic Growth in Northeast Illinois

CHICAGO – August 27, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the state is providing a business investment package to Stericycle, Inc., a leading national medical waste disposal service company. The investment package helped Stericycle relocate its call center operations to a larger facility in Northbrook. The move is resulting in 25 new jobs being created and 360 jobs being retained.

“This investment is contributing to a stronger local economy by creating and retaining hundreds of jobs in the Chicago area, and more opportunities for the company to grow in the future,” said Governor Quinn. “By investing in companies like Stericycle that are investing in Illinois, we are helping to get our economy back on track and putting more people to work.”

Stericycle was established in 1989 and operates in countries throughout the world. It is the leading national medical waste service provider, as well as the leading product recall services company. As a result of increased growth in recent years, the company relocated its sales and marketing operations from Lake Forest to an expanded facility in Northbrook.

“We are pleased that we were able to keep our information technology group and our sales and marketing call centers in Northern Illinois as we have a long history here, dating back to 1989,” said Charlie Alutto, President of Stericycle US. “We are committed to investing in the state of Illinois, creating jobs here and we are very grateful to the DCEO, Governor Quinn, Illinois Senator Link and Illinois Representative Sente for their support.”

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is administering the nearly $2.4 million business investment package. The package includes Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) corporate tax income credits over the next 10 years based on job creation and Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) job training funds that will help enhance the skills of its workforce.

“By working with Illinois companies like Stericycle to ensure their facilities and workforce are top of the line, we’re giving them the tools they need to increase their competitiveness and keep the Illinois economy moving forward,” DCEO Director Warren Ribley said.

Illinois has added more than 43,000 new jobs in 2010.

Stericycle, Inc. is a business service company that specializes in “Protecting People, Reducing Risk.”  Stericycle works with companies in a wide array of industry – such as health care, manufacturing and retail – to improve employee and customer safety, ensure regulatory compliance, safely dispose of regulated materials, and manage corporate and personal risk. The company’s services include: medical waste disposal, product recall and retrieval service, OSHA compliance training, hazardous and pharmaceutical waste disposal and medical safety product sales.

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Braley to Discuss Jobs, Economy In Clinton PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Caitlin Legacki   
Monday, 23 August 2010 09:20

Will Tour ADM corn-based plastic factory

Washington, DC – Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) will visit ADM’s corn-based plastic facility in Clinton today to discuss the importance of a strong manufacturing economy in America.  Earlier this month, President Obama signed the US Manufacturing Enhancement Act, part of House Democrats’ Make it in America national manufacturing strategy.

Last week, Braley visited Sivyer Steel in Bettendorf and the UNI Metal Casting Center in Cedar Falls to discuss the work he has been doing to strengthen America’s manufacturing industry.

Details of Braley’s visits are below.

MONDAY, August 23

WHAT: Rep. Braley tours ADM corn-based plastic facility, discusses importance of manufacturing in America                       

WHEN:           Media Availability at 11:00 am  

WHERE:          Main gate, 410 18th Avenue South, Clinton

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Mandus Group / Spirit Partners Plans to Expand in Rock Island PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jennifer Fowler   
Monday, 23 August 2010 09:01

Mandus Group / Spirit Partners plans to expand in Rock Island. On August 23, Rock Island City Council will vote on an agreement between the City and Mandus Group / Spirit Partners that will help foster a significant expansion by the company at their 2408 4th Avenue location in the city. The project involves two phases that in total could result in close to $4 million in new investment and 60 jobs.

The first phase involves construction of a 7,500 square foot addition to support assembly of mobile military vehicle maintenance units by Mandus Group and their associated company Spirit Partners. In support of the project the City will sell property it owns to the east and west to the company’s current facility for $1. The property to the east is a vacant lot. The property to the west is the site of a former fuel station/auto repair business. The site is currently undergoing an environmental clean-up through support from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Development plans call for the lot to be redeveloped as a landscaped parking lot to help support the anticipated increase in employment at Mandus Group / Spirit Partners. Additional City support during the first phase will be through City programs such as: Commercial / Industrial Revolving Loan Fund, Bi-State Revolving Loan Fund, Enterprise Zone, Sustainable Improvements Loan Fund, and the Façade Improvement Program.

Sam Kupresin, President of Mandus Group / Spirit Partners stated, “We are very excited to be expanding our business in Rock Island, due in part to the location of the Rock Island Arsenal, which is important to our business of dealing with military equipment. Working with the City of Rock Island was pleasant and enjoyable because the staff was supportive in helping us. The City’s pro-business attitude, especially in helping a small business grow, is appreciated.”

Mayor Dennis Pauley said “This project offers many positives for our community. It supports the growth of a small business in Rock Island, complements other investment in this neighborhood, adds much needed jobs to the economy and leverages significant private investment. Since locating in Rock Island in 2007, the City has worked to support the growth of Mandus Group / Spirit Partners and we are pleased that the company will continue its investment Rock Island.”

A second phase of the project involves acquisition of the property at 2435 5th Avenue. This is an approximate 26,000 square foot building which currently houses the Rock Island Register Company. Mandus Group / Spirit Partners plan to renovate the building for their use as well as for use by tenant businesses. City support for phase two includes a $50,000 loan and $83,600 in façade improvement funds to support installation on new widows and tuck pointing of the exterior brick surface. In addition, the City will reconstruct 25th Street between 4th and 5th Avenue and cover one-half the cost to replace sidewalks on 4th Avenue and 24th Street. It is expected this work will take place over the next five years as the company’s primary focus will be on constructing the new building.

 
Governor Quinn Highlights Importance of Job Training for Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Laurel White   
Monday, 23 August 2010 08:43

Helmets to Hardhats Trains Veterans for Good-Paying Jobs

August 20, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today visited Rend Lake College (RLC) to highlight the importance of job training and opportunities for Veterans through the Helmets to Hardhats program. Twelve Illinois Veterans began training through the program at RLC last month to gain the skills necessary to pursue careers in the construction industry.

“It is our responsibility to make sure that the servicemen and servicewomen who have answered the call to duty have the opportunity to come home to a good job,” Governor Quinn said. “Thanks to the Helmets to Hardhats program and training at schools like Rend Lake College, our Veterans are getting the training they need to transition into good-paying jobs.”

Helmets to Hardhats is a national initiative which connects National Guard, Reserve and transitioning active-duty military service members with high-quality construction industry training and employment opportunities. The program, administered by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans Employment, seeks to ease the challenging transition to civilian life for servicemembers and their families.

“Rend Lake College is very proud to be a Helmets to Hardhats site, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Plumbers and Pipefitters local and Governor Quinn’s office,” said RLC President Charley Holstein. “It’s a great program. It allows these soldiers who have gone and served their country to come back and have an opportunity to get some accelerated training to get out in the workforce.”

The Pipefitters Local 551 of West Frankfort and the Pipefitters Local 651 of Centralia are involved in RLC’s program and are training 12 Veterans. The 16 weeks of training conclude with each Veteran’s assignment to an area union as a second-year apprentice.

We were able to put this program together after reaching out to Governor Quinn,” said Thomas Caliper, business manager for UA Local 551 in West Frankfort. “We knew we could count on Governor Quinn’s support because Veterans are so important to this governor.”

Launched in 2003, Helmets to Hardhats is co-sponsored by all 15 building and construction trades organizations and their employer associations, together representing around 82,000 contractors. There are currently 157,755 Helmets to Hardhats candidates registered, all of whom have access to program’s Web site. The site currently lists over 80,000 careers for member access.

The Illinois Helmets to Hardhats program is generally recognized as the model for the national Helmets to Hardhats campaign. Much of this success can be attributed to a strong effort from teamster local unions, state agencies and local Veteran support groups.

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