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Grassley Seeks Full Transparency of Public Housing Authority Salaries PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 08 June 2012 12:47

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to make public the salary data it collected from public housing authorities across the country under pressure from Grassley and amid numerous salary scandals.   The Administration made only aggregate information public in announcing a salary cap proposal this week.

“Making only a handful of the information public is a missed opportunity,” Grassley said.  “We’ve seen several significant gold-plated compensation packages at housing authorities. The abuses have grown in the absence of oversight.  My review has shown that the housing authorities that go off the rails count on a lack of transparency to do what they want.  If salaries are public, there’s a deterrent for abuse.”

This week, HUD released aggregate salary data from 2010 from the nation’s housing authorities and announced a proposal to cap the federal part of housing authority salaries.   The limited information released is available here.  Coverage of controversial housing authority directors’ salaries this week in Atlanta and Providence, Rhode Island, is available here and here.

Grassley has been scrutinizing abuses by certain public housing authorities since 2010, working to hold HUD accountable for the way federal housing dollars are used and to protect those dollars from wasteful and abusive spending.

In addition to seeking transparency of the existing salary data, Grassley said he intends to look at the Administration’s salary cap proposal to make sure it closes the many loopholes around compensation caps.   A cap on federal funding for salaries does not apply to local funding, so salaries could still be high if the local agencies choose to supplement the salaries, another reason for transparency, Grassley said.  Housing authorities sometimes give bonuses and significant perks such as vehicles, accrued vacation pay, and rolling contracts that make it expensive to remove the top employee.

The federal government spends roughly $6 billion to $7 billion per year on public housing.  Another $4 billion was provided by the 2009 economic stimulus legislation.  More than 3,000 public housing authorities nationwide manage public housing programs.  “The federal government needs to pay a lot more attention to what happens at local housing authorities,” Grassley said.  “Taxpayers are paying for safe, clean public housing for those in need.  HUD has to make sure the services are delivered and that the taxpayers’ money is spent as intended.  Better transparency would be a good start.”

Grassley’s letter to the HUD secretary is available here.

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Parents: Character-Building Tips for Your Kids PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 08 June 2012 12:37

A recent rash of news stories highlights the positive in society’s youngest members: “Child Saves Kids from Bus Crash;” “Child Saves His Brother from Possible Abduction;” “Child Saves Family from House Fire.”

But all too often, the news involving children indicates a dangerous lack of morality: 7- and 8-year-olds stealing cars; a 9-year-old’s recent shooting of a school classmate; a 12-year-old charged with armed robbery. A particularly bad one nearly 20 years ago shocked sisters Debbie Burns and Patty Cockrell. Two 10-year-old truants abducted a toddler in England, tortured the little boy and beat him to death.

It prompted the women to begin work on Tukie Tales: A New Beginning for a Better Tomorrow (www.tukietales.com), a series of five children’s books designed to help parents teach young children important values.

“There is something especially senseless in reading about small children committing sadistic crimes,” Burns says. “We wanted to be part of a ‘positive push’ in the right direction.”

The younger the child, the more impressionable they are, she says. We wanted to help busy parents scrambling to make ends meet teach children empathy, compassion, environmental awareness and other values.

“I don’t think parents are bad,” she says. “But with all the economic worries, the job losses and home foreclosures, many are focused on working and worrying. It’s hard to also be thinking, ‘What value will I teach my child today?’ ”

Burns and Cockrell offer tips for parents to help positively shape children:

• Promote a love for nature: Are your kids outdoors much? Parents who are busying shuttling their sons and daughters from one building to another may overlook the benefits of the great outdoors. Wilderness, however, has a therapeutic effect on indoor dwellers. Spending time in nature also helps children learn about their place in the world and the value of all the life that shares space with us.

• Show the value of teamwork: Working together toward a common goal doesn’t always come naturally to children – or adults. Many youngsters learn teamwork through sports, which is good but almost always includes a competitive element. It’s important for children to experience the added benefits of creating, problem-solving and getting chores done as a team. Parents should look for opportunities to point out their children’s great teamwork.

• Make sure they appreciate safety: No good parent wants to unnecessarily frighten their children, but carelessness leads to bad habits, injuries and opportunities for others to do them harm. The best medicine for any problem is prevention. Remember: Don’t take for granted that your young child knows what’s safe and what’s not. Some years ago, someone taught you that stoves can burn your hand – even though you can’t remember who or when it was.

• Build their confidence with at least one skill: Remember what it’s like to be 4 years old? Very young children come into this world with no previous experience, which means their brains are hungry for know-how. Knowledge and skills to a child are like water for a thirsty man in the desert.

• Kindness counts: It is one thing to teach kids the old idiom that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar. But children should also know that people who make kindness a habit tend to be happier; there is an inherent joy in helping others.

“I understand parents are busy earning a living to support their children,” Cockrell says. “But who you raise in the process makes all the difference to the future world.”

About Debbie Burns & Patty Cockrell

Burns and Cockrell are sisters and best friends. They were determined to instill honest and wholesome values in their children after establishing their families. Deeply affected by the bad news of the world, they decided to promote a better experience for children. The “Tukie Tales” series is written with compassion and love for all of the world’s children in the hope of making a positive difference.

 
Grassley Seeks Explanation for Agency Preference for Paper Over Email PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 08 June 2012 12:03

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the Department of Homeland Security to explain an apparent preference for providing Congress with paper rather than electronic documents, an irony given the agency’s interest in boosting its cybersecurity funding and expertise.

“It’s ironic that the agency striving for expertise on cybersecurity is reluctant to send emails to Congress,” Grassley said.  “It would be like if CBO presented estimates to Congress with an abacus or if the transportation secretary rode around town in a horse and buggy. The purpose of the letter is to find out what’s behind the apparent preference for paper over email.”

Grassley, with Rep. Darrell Issa, wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to ask why the agency tells members of Congress that it is unable to produce documents to Congress electronically.  The apparent preference for paper is in contrast with the President’s executive order asking agencies to use electronic documents when possible and the Administration’s interest in increasing funding for Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity programs by $300 million.

Grassley’s encounter with the Department of Homeland Security’s apparent preference for paper responses is related to his December 2011 request in the Operation Fast and Furious inquiry.  The agency is beginning to respond, and the responses are coming in paper form and will result in thousands of pages if the entire request is fulfilled.  Agency representatives have told Grassley’s office that the paper preference is a policy, and the Grassley-Issa letter seeks verification and details.

The text of Grassley’s December 2011 request to the agency is available here.  The text of the Grassley-Issa letter to the agency this week is available here.

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Dear Mr. President -- From One Dad to Another PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Gordon Filepas   
Friday, 08 June 2012 11:55
By: Gordon Filepas

As a father, you understand the incredible importance of keeping your family healthy, happy, lean and long-lived as easily and inexpensively as possible.   As the president of our country, you understand the importance of educating U.S. citizens about how to do the same.

My concern then is, as the most prominent role model in the land, why do you smoke cigarettes?  Why do you eat so many fatty foods, as physicians have publicly noted?  Why are there so many campaign tour photos of you eating unhealthy foods?  At the same time, your wife is campaigning to end childhood obesity.  Doesn’t this send a mixed message to most everyone in America?  This at a time when America’s disease, obesity and health insurance rates are skyrocketing, with no end in sight?

Why does America spend only 4% percent of its health-care budget on prevention and education yet over 75 percent on disease treatment? Is the goal to make Americans authentically healthy, or to make a few industries wealthier? These are questions my own children have asked me around the dinner table, so now I’m asking you Mr. President.

From all the research I just completed, I now know that Americans aren’t getting fatter and sicker because they’re lazy; they’re getting fatter and sicker because of the steady stream of misinformation that is fed to them and that defies common sense. They’re confused about the true biological causes of poor health and disease.  You can understand then why, to the American public, it almost appears that governmental health policies are designed to cultivate disease and illness, purely for profit, rather than to authentically protect the health of American citizens.

The signs are everywhere. A recent example is the fact that food manufacturers don’t have to label GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods in America, when other countries do.  Why?  People certainly deserve to know what’s in their food!  A country as a whole is only as strong as the health of its individuals.

As a concerned father, I wanted to ask you these questions. Because, when I give my children a kiss or a hug or tell them I love them each day, I want only the best for them.  As a father, I know you want the same for your own children.   And, every other parent in our country wants the same for their own children.  What does the future hold for our children if America doesn’t change its ways right now and do what it needs to do to end its disease and obesity epidemics?

As a concerned American citizen, I know that you have the power to make America healthier, leaner, fitter and stronger.  You can also choose to do nothing and give into the various lobbying interests purely for their profit and political purposes, while the citizens of our country continue to get sicker, fatter and weaker, thereby making America even less competitive in the world.

The long and short of it is, Mr. President, the choice really is yours. You are the ultimate role model for America.  The buck starts and stops with you.

Whoever becomes the next President in the upcoming election, I wonder what the parents on their staff and throughout all the other influential government offices would wish for their own children’s future: profit or health? Frankly, it really is easy to have both if America’s health-care system were to be redesigned properly and if all Americans were taught to give their bodies what they need biologically in the first place to prevent disease and illness.  Providing everyone with health insurance is a noble proposition but it does nothing to prevent or end even a single disease state.

Wouldn’t it be great to be remembered as the president who solved America’s health and obesity problems, and made America the longest-lived country in the world with among the lowest healthcare costs?

The choice is yours.

About Gordon Filepas

Gordon Filepas spent 20 years researching Lean And Healthy To 100, (www.adviceformychildren.com), interviewing physicians, attending seminars, and reading medical journals and other health-related literature. He is the founder of TGM Partners, a consulting and investment firm. Filepas says he was motivated to learn more about the specific requirements for optimal health following the deaths of his father and brother from cancer within three years of each other. He hopes to ensure the good health of his family, including his wife of 25 years and three sons.

 
Understanding Mormons PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 08 June 2012 11:33

Critics say the presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney seems “stiff” and out of touch. Some say it’s because of his immense wealth. Ross H. Palfreyman, a Mormon author of Two Years in God’s Mormon Army (www.mormonarmy.net), thinks it’s something else.

“People get distracted by religion, especially the Mormon religion, because, hey, we do some quirky stuff,” Palfreyman says. “I think Romney has stayed away from the personal stuff because much of it has to do with being Mormon. But if people knew about his experiences as a Mormon, they’d see his softer side.”

Like Palfreyman, Romney served two years as a Mormon missionary, a rite of passage that teaches young men compassion and self-discipline, among other values, Palfeyman says. That time away from home – no visits allowed and only two phone calls a year on Mother’s Day and Christmas – can be the most memorable in a Mormon’s lifetime, he says.

Palfreyman offers facts for voters about Mormonism and Romney’s relationship to it:

Romney served his two-year mission in France. No matter where a young man serves his mission “it prepares you for a life of service,” Palfreyman says. The missionaries witness abject poverty, learn selflessness and hard work, and learn how to accept rejection.

Romney also served five years as bishop of his congregation in Belmont, Mass. It was an unpaid position where he managed nuts-and-bolts-type issues like administrative tasks and more delicate duties, including financial counseling and assistance, and marriage relationship help.

Mormons revere and exalt the Bible, and see it as the bedrock of Christianity. They also believe in a revelation given from God to Joseph Smith, which is found in the Book of Mormon.

Children are baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 8. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential running mate for Romney, was baptized into the LDS Church while living in Utah with his family. Rubio converted to Catholicism as a teenager.

Mormons believe God wants human beings to follow a health outline called “The Word of Wisdom,” which discourages use of alcohol, tobacco or coffee. Adherence to this health code is especially important for baptism, full-time missionary work, church school attendance and entry into the church’s temples. Violation of the code is not grounds for excommunication or other disciplinary measures. Other guidelines include limited meat consumption, the restriction of narcotics and an emphasis on eating herbs, fruits and grains.

Romney is far more than the stiff businessman in a suit often seen in public, Palfreyman says.

“Clearly, there’s a softer and more developed side to Mitt Romney, because he was a great bishop from all I’ve heard,” he says. “His religion is the elephant in the room, but he’s got to keep it from distracting from his message about what he would do as the nation’s leader.”

About Ross H. Palfreyman

Ross H. Palfreyman is a Laguna Beach, Calif., lawyer who began his mission work in 1973 in Thailand, during the Vietnam War and the Thai Revolution of ’73. Two years of trying to convince devout Buddhists that they’d be better off as Mormons was trying enough, he also was threatened at gunpoint and fended off parasites and rabid dogs during his “indentured servitude.” He initially wrote about his experiences for his six children. Palfreyman’s youngest son returns from his mission in Mexico in August.

 
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