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LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHERS JESSE INSKEEP AND JEFF WROS JOINS WORLD-WIDE MOVEMENT HELP-PORTRAIT IN PROVIDING FREE PROFESSIONALLY-DONE PORTRAITS FOR THOSE IN NEED PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jason Holtgrewe   
Friday, 16 November 2012 11:14
During the month of December, photographers from across the world will use their skills to give back to their local community. It’s a movement called Help-Portrait, and local photographers Jesse Inskeep and Jeff Wros are joining the movement to serve the Quad Cities on December 1st.

Help-Portrait’s purpose is simple: grab your camera, find people in need, take their picture, and give them the prints free-of-charge.

“I have very few photographs from when I was growing up as my family didn’t have the time or money to make it a priority,” says Inskeep. “Now that I’m older and especially now that I have a daughter, it makes me sad that she’s not able to see portraits of what I looked like when I was her age. My hope is that those who come to Help-Portrait will leave with something they’ll treasure for generations.”

Last year Inskeep and Wros participated in Help-Portrait for the first time and were able to give nearly 30 families professionally-done portraits. This year they’re hoping to do even more. And this year, like last, will include a team of hairstylists and makeup artists at the event to make sure each person getting their picture taken looks their best.

Help-Portrait will be hosted by Connection, a church in Bettendorf. Connection has helped Inskeep and Wros spread the word by promoting the event at Connection’s Food Pantry and reaching out to local shelters. “The Holidays can be tough for many; our hope in hosting Help- Portrait is to help those going through a tough time feel beautiful and valuable,” says Jason Holtgrewe, one of Connection’s pastors.

Those interested in coming to Help-Portrait can reserve their time-slot by calling 309.524.5024.

Help-Portrait takes place at Connection on December 1st from 12-4pm. Connection is located at  4374 State Street, Suite 2, Bettendorf, IA 52722 and can be contacted by calling 563.355.0919 or by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Update to Whistleblower Protection Act Clears Senate, Ready for President’s Signature PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 16 November 2012 10:46
WASHINGTON – Legislation to provide a much needed update to the Whistleblower Protection Act has passed the Senate and is now expected to be signed into law by the President.

Grassley said that whistleblowers are being denied the protections they should have under the law because of decisions of the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and a general anti-whistleblower sentiment found in executive branch agencies.

Grassley co-authored the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act with Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.  The law provides protection for federal employees who expose waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies.  Grassley introduced the update, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, with Senators Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Susan Collins of Maine and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

"This much needed update helps whistleblowers who risk their careers by sticking their necks out to simply tell the truth.  The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act is an important step forward, but improvements are still needed to ensure that intelligence community whistleblowers receive the protection they deserve for uncovering fraud deep within the bureaucracy," Grassley said.

A long-time advocate for whistleblowers, Grassley has stood up against the heavy hand of the bureaucracy – regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats were in charge -- for individual whistleblowers from the Pentagon, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the IRS, the Interior Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition to co-authoring the 1989 whistleblower law, Grassley also authored the 1986 update of the False Claims Act to include qui tam provisions that empower private citizens, who had information about fraudulent activity by government contractors, to bring wrongdoing forward and sue in the name of the government.  To date, these whistleblower provisions have recovered more than $30 billion for taxpayers that otherwise would be lost to fraud.

In 2009, Grassley and Senator Patrick Leahy won passage of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act which made the most significant improvements to the False Claims Act since 1986.  The law restores the scope and applicability of the False Claims Act where it had been limited by court decisions.  This effort also revised criminal laws to help prosecute mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and complex financial crimes that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

In addition, Grassley authored the 2006 overhaul of the IRS whistleblower program to fight major tax fraud.  The IRS recently paid out its largest award ever, but has acknowledged, after scrutiny from Grassley, that the agency must be more timely and responsive in processing whistleblower claims.

Once signed into law, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 will:

·         clarify that any disclosure of gross waste or mismanagement, fraud, abuse, or illegal activity may be protected, but not disagreements over legitimate policy decisions;

·         suspend the sole jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals over federal employee whistleblower cases for two years;

·         extend Whistleblower Protection Act coverage and other non-discrimination and anti-retaliatory laws to all employees of the Transportation Security Administration;

·         clarify that whistleblowers may disclose evidence of censorship of scientific or technical information under the same standards that apply to disclosures of other kinds of waste, fraud, and abuse;

·         codify the anti-gag provision, which Grassley originally got passed, that has been part of every Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill since 1988;

·         establish Whistleblower Protection Ombudsmen to educate agency personnel about whistleblower rights; and

·         provide the Office of Special Counsel with the independent right to file "friend of the court" briefs, or amicus briefs, with federal courts.

 

 

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Grassley has cast 11,000 votes in U.S. Senate PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 16 November 2012 10:14

Working for Iowa puts Grassley on list with 23 others in Senate history

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has cast his 11,000 Senate vote.  Only 23 senators in history have cast more votes than Grassley.

In addition, no senator serving today has gone as long as Grassley has without missing a vote.  Grassley has cast 6,473 consecutive votes.

“Not missing votes is a way to demonstrate respect for the public trust I hold in representing Iowans and to do the job I’m elected to do,” Grassley said.  “When the Senate’s in session, I’m in Washington voting, and when the Senate is out of session, I’m in Iowa holding meetings with constituents.”

Click here for comments made this afternoon by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.  Grassley’s 11,000th vote was last evening.

Since Grassley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980, he has held at least one official meeting in every one of Iowa’s 99 counties every year.  He calls the process of representative government a two-way street.  “I have a responsibility to go to Iowans to ask for their views and answer their questions, and they have a responsibility to let me know what they think.  I want to foster that process, and going to every county every year is a way to do so.”

In the Senate, Grassley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.  He is a senior member and former Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Finance.  He serves on the Agriculture and Budget committees and co-chairs the Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Grassley is committed to congressional oversight of the executive branch of government.  His efforts have been recognized by whistleblower advocacy and government reform groups and journalist organizations for protecting press freedom and the First Amendment.  He fights for transparency in government and wherever tax dollars flow.

Grassley’s legislative record of achievement includes expansive tax relief and reform, approval of international trade agreements, renewable energy and conservation incentives, farm program reforms, rural health care fairness, Medicare modernization, adoption and foster care incentives, access to health care for children with disabilities, updates to patent and trademark laws, expanded consumer access to generic drugs, measures to fight fraud against taxpayers, whistleblower protections, pension program reforms, bankruptcy reform, and making certain that members of Congress live under civil rights, labor and health care laws passed for the rest of the country.

Grassley is the eighth most senior member of the U.S. Senate and the fourth most senior Republican senator.

Other senators currently serving who have cast more than 11,000 votes are Senators Max Baucus of Montana, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Richard Lugar of Indiana.

Since 1789, there have been nearly 2,000 members of the U.S. Senate.  The last vote Grassley missed was in July 1993, when he accompanied President Bill Clinton to Iowa to inspect flood damage.

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Simon to promote anti-texting pledge PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Friday, 16 November 2012 10:08

PALATINE – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will challenge Harper College students on Thursday to sign an online pledge not to text and drive. Simon, the governor’s point person on education reform, is visiting community colleges across the state this fall to urge commuter students to practice safe texting.

AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign aims to educate drivers on the dangers of texting while driving. Nationwide, drivers are 23 times more likely to get in an accident if they text while driving. In the first half of 2011 in Illinois, cell phone distractions were the cause of more than 500 crashes. Simon took the “It Can Wait” pledge in September.

“Texting is one of the leading causes of distracted driving, an epidemic that causes far too many accidents and deaths on our roadways,” Simon said. “There is no text message important enough to risk your life – it can wait.”


 
Treasury nominee on hold over interest rate scandal PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 16 November 2012 10:02

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois today announced they will object to Senate consideration of a Treasury Department nominee over the Treasury Department’s lack of a response to the senators’ letter seeking an explanation of apparent inaction to stem the dominance and inform the public of a rigged interest rate that affects mortgages, student loans, credit cards and other loans.

“Taxpayers need to know there’s a cop on the beat at the Treasury Department, making sure the interest rates they pay on everything from home loans to retirement investments aren’t rigged,” Grassley said.  “If the attitude of the Treasury Secretary is that it isn’t his responsibility to take action or to tell the public, that’s going to harm confidence in our financial system and create a lack of certainty.”

Grassley placed a statement in the Senate floor record, stating that he and Kirk will object to Senate consideration of Richard Berner to head the Office of Financial Research within the Department of the Treasury.  That office came about through the Dodd-Frank law and is designed to conduct studies and accumulate financial data.  The text of Grassley’s statement follows here:

“Mr. President.  I, Senator CHUCK GRASSLEY along with Senator Mark Kirk, intend to object to proceeding to the nomination of Richard Berner to head the Office of Financial Research within the Department of the Treasury.

“We will object to proceeding to the nomination because the Department of the Treasury has refused to respond to a letter Senator Kirk and I sent on October 2, over six weeks ago, regarding the Treasury Secretary’s actions when he became aware of the manipulation of the London Interbank Overnight Rate – or LIBOR.  The Department has also refused to provide the documents we requested.

“In addition, my staff has, on several occasions, attempted to schedule briefing times that are convenient for the Department.  The Treasury Department has cancelled each of these briefings and failed to cooperate in rescheduling at a mutually agreeable time.

“Because everything from home mortgages to credit cards was pegged to LIBOR, its manipulation affects almost every American.  Given the widespread effects of this manipulation, it is disturbing to see that the Treasury Department has thus far refused to answer basic questions and provide essential documents.

“It is critical for Congress to be able to ask questions and to have access to administration documents in order to conduct vigorous and independent oversight.  It is unfortunate that this administration, which has pledged to be the most transparent in history, consistently falls short of that goal.”

In congressional testimony earlier this year, Geithner said that when as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he became aware of concerns that the LIBOR rate was being rigged, he deferred to the British central bankers to fix the problem.  Despite those concerns, Geithner appears not to have taken action “to diminish use of this flawed index in U.S. financial markets; to the contrary, Treasury’s use of LIBOR has increased,” Grassley and Kirk wrote in their Oct. 2 letter to Geithner.

Grassley and Kirk asked Geithner to answer questions including whether the Treasury Department considered the risk to U.S. borrowers, including state, municipal, and local governments facing higher debt burdens as a result of the LIBOR scandal; whether U.S. officials considered the litigation risks to U.S. borrowers in deciding to raise the LIBOR scandal only to the attention of British central banks rather than U.S. lenders and borrowers; and whether the Treasury Department’s continued reliance on LIBOR is affecting borrower access to Small Business Administration loans.

Grassley and Kirk concluded, “In the wake of this scandal, we believe that it is essential to undertake steps to consider the creation of an American-based interest rate index. If U.S. investors and borrowers have suffered financial harm from our dependence on an index set in London, they have the right to expect the country’s leaders to support better alternatives. Complacency in the wake of losses and lawsuits will diminish both investor and borrower confidence regarding debt securities issued in U.S. financial markets.”

The text of the Grassley-Kirk Oct. 2 letter to Geithner is available here.

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