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Morthland Legislation Streamlines FOID Card Process PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rep. Rich Morthland   
Thursday, 04 October 2012 14:49

Springfield, IL… State Rep. Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) filed legislation Monday aimed to simplify FOID card procedures in Illinois.

“The bill allows card holders to update their Driver's License or State ID to include their FOID number and expiration date, thus allowing them to be in compliance with state statute and while only requiring them to have one card,” explained Morthland.

House Bill 6232 is a response to an Auditor General report last spring that found the Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau’s faulty reporting resulted in ineligible people obtaining FOID cards. The audit also cited lengthy certification delays.

“This is the beginning of our work with the Illinois State Police in the streamlining of the FOID process. I will continue to work with ISP in changing overly burdensome regulation and allowing them to focus on our public safety."

The bill does include provisions to counter abuse by requiring the State Police to notify the Secretary of State when a FOID card holder becomes ineligible and requires the Secretary to confiscate the invalid identification card. Records showed that nearly 20,000 FOID cards were revoked in 2008 and 2010, but the Illinois State Police recovered only 30 percent.

“Allowing the Secretary of State to confiscate revoked cards would strengthen the system and put less risk on the general public,” said Morthland. “I think anytime we can simplify citizens interaction with government is a good thing. It is a smart bill and in the end will save taxpayers and the state money and make it better for Illinois residents who chose to own firearms.”

 
Ready your costumes for Galena's 34th Annual Halloween Parade & Festival PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Celestino Ruffini   
Thursday, 04 October 2012 14:45

October 27 event features one of the largest nighttime parades in the Midwest

GALENA, Ill. – Ghosts and goblins of all ages will converge on Galena, Illinois for the 34th annual Halloween Parade & Festival. The Galena Area Chamber of Commerce serves as the host of this one-day event in downtown Galena on Saturday, October 27, with festivities taking place from noon until 8:30 p.m.

The nearly two-hour long Halloween parade literally lights up Galena’s historic Main Street. The popular event features spectacular floats, local marching bands, costumed participants and plenty of sweet treats. Making a return to this year’s parade will be several hot air balloons that will light up the night sky, as well as provide a fleeting moment of warmth, as they make their way through the parade. The parade begins promptly at 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Green and Main Streets and continues north until reaching the intersection of Franklin and Main Streets.

A new addition to this year’s events will be the Halloween Festival taking place from noon until 8:30 p.m. at Washington and Perry Streets. Swing by the festival for food and entertainment while you wait for the parade to get started. Local chamber members will be offering several tasty treats for visitors to enjoy. Confirmed festival vendors are Gobbie’s Sports Pub & Eatery/Log Cabin Steakhouse, Galena Arts and Recreation Center, Galena Elks Lodge, Tammy’s Piggly Wiggly, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Culver’s.

To accommodate the high volume of parade goers, there will be three shuttle buses operating between 4:00 - 9:00 p.m., excluding parade times between 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Shuttle parking and pickup, all in Galena, will take place at Walmart (10000 Bartell Blvd.), Signcraft (100 A.J. Harle Dr.), Recreation Park (Field St.) and at the Old Train Depot (99 Bouthillier St.) parking lots.

For further event information or to register an entry into the parade, visit www.galenachamber.com, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 815.777.9050. Additional area offerings and visitor information may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.galena.org or by calling 877.464.2536. While in town, visit the CVB’s Old Train Depot Visitor Information Center at 101 Bouthillier St. (corner of Park Avenue) for on-site assistance and countywide information.

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October 20th-November 6th Annual International Prayer and Fasting Campaign PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Christian Newswire   
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 13:00
Prayer and Fasting Movement Gains Speed as Elections Near and Global Tensions Escalate

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- The International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWPF), a Catholic global movement, is launching its 20th annual campaign to pray for the conversion of nations, the building of a culture of life and the promotion of peace throughout the world. The Coalition is asking for people to participate as individuals, families and parishes during this 18 day period (two back-to-back nine day novena prayers): the first novena is to petition God's mercy and the second novena is in thanksgiving for answered prayers.

The campaign begins with an all-day Eucharistic Prayer Vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., from 9am-4pm on Saturday, October 20th. Speakers include Dr. Richard Russell, an established international relations scholar; Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel; Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter in Washington D.C.; Bishop George Nkuo, Bishop of Kumbo Cameroon, Africa; Fr. Chad Partain, founder of the St. Philomena Youth for Purity Program; and Ted Flynn, popular author and speaker.

Pope John Paul II backed IWPF when he said in a message given on October 1, 2001: "As a pledge of an abundance of Divine Blessings upon you and yours, I paternally impart to all participants of the International Week of Prayer and Fasting my most heartfelt apostolic blessing."

The coalition received support from Mother Teresa in its early days. She said, "You must do this, God wants this, prayer is the answer to the world's problems." Blessed Mother Teresa also said "I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace in the world is abortion...the fruit of abortion is nuclear war."

Coalition chairperson Maureen Flynn says, "Many news, political and religious commentators speak today about our global financial crisis, but few speak about our rapid spiritual and moral decline. Many people believe that America is now under God's judgment. In addition to the concern over whales stranded on the beach and other unfortunate animal tragedies, there should be outrage and sorrow over the daily destruction of over 4000 unborn babies in America through abortion. Since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, there have been more than 50 million unborn children that have been destroyed by abortion. We must remember, Our Lord is a God of Mercy and He responds to our repentance and prayers. As individuals, as families and as nations we much pray and fast for a global culture of life and peace."

For information or to register for the free prayer vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, please visit our website www.iwopf.org or contact us at 1-888-478-PRAY / 703-707-0799 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
GRASSLEY, AYOTTE QUESTION ADMINISTRATION’S WARN ACT GUIDANCE PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:32

Senators ask White House to explain legal basis for covering lawsuit costs after instructing employers to disregard labor law

 

WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) are requesting information from the White House about new guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that says the government will pay for legal costs related to lawsuits resulting from private-sector employers failing to give employees notice of possible layoffs due to sequestration.  The Department of Labor told federal contractors this summer not to worry about complying with the federal labor law that requires notification.

 

The senators’ inquiry involves the 1988 Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, known as the WARN Act, which requires large employers to send written notice to employees 60 days in advance of potential layoffs or plant closings.

 

In July, the Department of Labor issued guidance which said federal contractors potentially impacted by the budget sequestration scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013, need not abide by the WARN Act requirement.  Despite sequestration being the law of the land, the Department of Labor suggests the WARN Act doesn’t apply because of uncertainty about whether sequestration will occur and how it would impact contracts.  To date, the administration has failed to be transparent about the impact of sequestration.

 

Despite the message from the Department of Labor, federal contractors have considered providing notices in order to comply with the law.  According to a news report last month, Lockheed Martin had said it might send notices to all 123,000 employees, for example.  Under the WARN Act, if notice isn’t provided, an employer is liable for paying back pay, benefits and attorneys’ fees.  If sent, notices would reach workers days before the presidential election in November.

 

On Friday, the OMB issued a memo that goes beyond the letter from the Department of Labor by apparently promising government payments for any lawsuits brought against employers who don’t give WARN Act notices per the Department of Labor’s instructions.  After the OMB memo was released, Lockheed Martin said it won’t send notices.  Other contractors have not yet indicated what they will do.

 

“What the administration has done raises serious questions,” Grassley said.  “In our letter of inquiry, we’re asking what authority the administration is using to say it is okay to disregard the law and commit to pay for monetary judgments and other expenses resulting from lawsuits.  If workers aren’t given the notice they’re due, the costs could amount to billions of dollars for taxpayers.  The public deserves answers and accountability without any delay.”

 

“The President has prohibited the Pentagon from planning for defense sequestration and now cites this lack of specifics as the reason employers should ignore the WARN Act requirement.  The Administration’s new guidance tells employers to willfully ignore the law and stay silent about looming layoffs until after the election – and promises them a taxpayer funded bailout for their legal expenses if they do so,” Ayotte said.  “The Administration must explain its legal basis for this interpretation of the WARN Act that leaves taxpayers on the hook, American workers in the dark, and our national security in jeopardy.”

 

Below is the text of the senators’ October 1 letter to Jeffrey Zients, the Acting Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.  Click here to see the letter.

October 1, 2012

The Honorable Jeffrey Zients

Acting Director

Executive Office of the President

Office of Management and Budget

Washington, DC  20503

 

Dear Mr. Zients:

 

We write regarding the Memorandum for the Chief Financial Officers and Senior Procurement Executives of Executive Departments and Agencies issued by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on September 28, 2012.  The OMB memorandum purports to provide “guidance on allowable contracting costs with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.”

 

In general, the WARN Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq., requires employers with at least 100 employees to provide written notice to employees 60 days before ordering certain plant closings or mass layoffs.  Failure to provide this notice, subject to very limited exceptions, triggers civil liability for the employer.  Under the WARN Act, each aggrieved employee may sue their employer and may be awarded back pay, benefits and attorneys’ fees.

As the OMB memorandum explains, on July 30, 2012, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 3-12, which examined the WARN Act's requirements in the context of the sequestration (budget cuts) scheduled to take place on January 2, 2013.  The DOL opined that it was neither necessary nor appropriate for federal contractors to issue WARN Act notices to employees 60 days in advance of the potential sequestration because of uncertainty about whether sequestration will occur and, if it did, what effect it would have on particular contracts.

The DOL's speculation about the applicability of the WARN Act notwithstanding, some contractors indicated that they were still considering issuing notices.  Those notices would be received by employees and their families days before the Presidential election in November.   For example, according to a news report, Lockheed Martin initially indicated that it might send notices to all of its 123,000 employees.[1]

On the afternoon of Friday, September 28, the White House’s OMB issued its memorandum.  In relevant part, that memorandum states:

To further minimize the potential for waste and disruption associated with the issuance of unwarranted layoff notices, this memorandum provides guidance regarding the allowability of certain liability and litigation costs associated with WARN Act compliance.  Specifically, if (1) sequestration occurs and an agency terminates or modifies a contract that necessitates that the contractor order a plant closing or mass layoff of a type subject to WARN Act requirements, and (2) that contractor has followed a course of action consistent with DOL guidance; then any resulting employee compensation costs for WARN Act liability as determined by a court, as well as attorneys' fees and other litigation costs (irrespective of litigation outcome), would qualify as allowable costs and be covered by the contracting agency, if otherwise reasonable and allocable.

The OMB memorandum concludes by stating that its representations do “not alter existing rights, responsibilities, obligations, or limitations under individual contract provisions or the governing cost principles set forth in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and other applicable law.”  Thus, “agencies may treat as allowable other costs potentially associated with sequestration, including WARN Act-related costs arising under circumstances not specified in th[e memorandum], based on the usual cost principles of allocability, allowability, and reasonableness as set forth in the FAR.”

According to one news report, the OMB memorandum tells contractors that “they would be compensated for legal costs if layoffs occur due to contract cancellations under sequestration – but only if the contractors follow the [DOL’s] guidance [from July].”[2] As noted above, the DOL has advised contractors not to provide their employees with notices under the WARN Act.

In reliance on the promises in the OMB memorandum, Lockheed Martin has now indicated that it will not send out the notices.[3] Other contractors have yet to indicate whether they will send out the WARN Act notices to their employees, in light of the Administration’s promises.

We are seriously concerned about the OMB’s memorandum and the DOL’s letter.  In particular, we are concerned about the authority of the Executive Branch to instruct private employers not to comply with federal law and to promise to pay the monetary judgments and litigation costs that arise out of the lawsuits that may follow.  Although the precise amounts of the judgments and costs are unknown, they could potentially reach tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, all of which would be paid for with taxpayers’ dollars.

Accordingly, respond to the following questions and requests for information:

1.         Identify the legal authority for the DOL to instruct federal contractors that they are not required to provide WARN Act notices to their employees in light of the pending sequestration.

2.         Identify the legal authority for the OMB to instruct federal contractors that they are not required to provide WARN Act notices to their employees in light of the pending sequestration.

3.         Identify the legal authority for the OMB to promise to pay the monetary judgments and litigation costs that arise out of the lawsuits that could follow from employers’ failure to comply with the WARN Act.

4.         Set forth the analysis and supporting legal authority for the representation in the OMB’s memorandum that “any resulting employee compensation costs for WARN Act liability as determined by a court, as well as attorneys' fees and other litigation costs (irrespective of litigation outcome), would qualify as allowable costs and be covered by the contracting agency, if otherwise reasonable and allocable.”

5.         Explain in detail why you maintain that the Obama Administration did not have to first obtain approval from Congress before committing to pay tens or hundreds of millions of dollars (if not billions of dollars) in judgments, settlements and/or attorneys’ fees that may be incurred by private employers.

6.         Identify in detail the costs that the OMB’s memorandum represents the Administration will “cover” for contractors who are sued based on their failure to provide notices under the WARN Act.  For example, do the “costs” include reimbursing the contractors for the attorneys’ fees they incur from defending themselves in WARN Act lawsuits?  What other “costs” will be “covered”?

7.         How many millions or billions of dollars has the OMB’s memorandum obligated the federal government to pay, if WARN Act notices are not provided and layoffs and lawsuits do occur?

8.         What will be the source of the funds used to pay the monetary judgments and litigation costs that arise out of the lawsuits that follow from employers’ failure to comply with the WARN Act?  Does the Administration maintain that these funds have already been appropriated by Congress?

9.         Before the release of OMB’s memorandum, was any analysis done to determine how much the federal government would have to pay to “cover” the costs of these lawsuits, including potential attorneys’ fees?  If so, provide that analysis and provide copies of all documents related to that analysis.

10.     Provide copies of any and all written analyses that were done in connection with the OMB’s memorandum.

11.     According to the DOL’s July 30, 2012 letter, if contractors provide WARN Act notices, it “would be inconsistent with the purpose of the WARN Act.”  By contrast, 29 U.S.C. § 2106 (the WARN Act) provides that “[i]t is the sense of Congress that an employer who is not required to comply with the notice requirements of section 2102 of this title should, to the extent possible, provide notice to its employees about a proposal to close a plant or permanently reduce its workforce.”  How does OMB justify DOL’s statement in light of the plain language of section 2106 of the WARN Act?

12.     According to the OMB’s memorandum, “some [contractors] have inquired about' whether Federal contracting agencies would cover WARN Act-related costs in connection with the potential sequestration.”  Identify each of those contractors and produce all documents related to communications between the White House, DOL or any other federal agency and the contractors regarding this issue.

13.     Does the Administration maintain that the OMB’s memorandum constitutes a binding legal promise to contractors that the federal government will fully indemnify them for any and all liability and legal defense fees that they incur as a result of their not providing WARN Act notices?  If not, explain in detail whether the OMB’s memorandum makes any binding commitments and if it does, describe those commitments in detail.

14.     Were any other federal agencies consulted prior to the issuance of the OMB memorandum?  If so, identify each agency consulted and indicate whether any agency disagreed about whether the legal authority exists for the Administration to promise to pay the costs and legal fees associated with the failure to issue WARN Act notices.

If the OMB or any other office in the White House possesses documents relating to the subject matter of any of the foregoing questions, provide copies of those documents.

 

We ask that you provide written answers and documents by October 8, 2012.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Grassley                       Kelly Ayotte

Ranking Member                         Member

Senate Judiciary Committee                      Senate Armed Services Committee

 



[1] Jeremy Herb, “Obama administration tells contractors again: Don’t issue layoff notices,” The Hill (Sept. 28, 2012).

[2] Id.  

[3] Jeremy Herb, “After Obama guidance, Lockheed won’t issue layoff notices this year,” The Hill (Oct. 1, 2012).

 
NORTH CENTRAL U.S. PRODUCES 10 OF THE “PRETTIEST PAINTED PLACES” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by D. Zimmer   
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:18
The search for the “Prettiest Painted Places in America” is narrowing, with 10 finalists from the North Central U.S. named by the Paint Quality Institute, an informational entity whose mission is to educate the public about quality paints and coatings.

The 10 finalists are:  Aurora, Illinois;  Bay View Association, Michigan;  Evansville, Wisconsin;  Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota/Minnesota;  Galena, Illinois;  Grinnell, Iowa;  Lowry Hill East, Minnesota;  Richmond, Indiana;  Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan;  and Stillwater, Minnesota.

After further evaluation, two of the 10 will be named the prettiest painted places in the North Central U.S., alongside winners from five other regions, to make up the 12 prettiest painted places in America.

A “prettiest painted place” is a special town or neighborhood with exceptional community-wide “curb appeal” due to optically pleasing or creative use of exterior paint color, according to Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert for the Paint Quality Institute.

“One typically thinks of curb appeal defined by beautiful color schemes on homes or buildings, and that’s the case most of the time, but exquisite outdoor murals and creative use of paint color on statues, signage, traffic signals, water towers, and even streets and sidewalks have elevated the appearance of many of today’s prettiest communities,” she said.

The search for America’s prettiest painted places began this spring, when the Paint Quality Institute contacted state departments of tourism, local chambers of commerce, and convention and visitors bureaus in all 50 states.  Eventually, nearly 200 towns, historic districts, neighborhoods and Main Streets were nominated in the competition.

Last week, a panel of judges with expertise in color selection, exterior painting, and home improvement reviewed the entries and narrowed the field to 60 finalists, 10 from each of six geographic regions.  The 12 national winners will be named later this month.

This is the third time the Paint Quality Institute has conducted a search for the prettiest painted places in America.  It held the first competition in the 1990s, and another in year 2000.

According to Zimmer, the purpose of the competition is to give recognition to places that use paint to express pride in their communities, and highlight how an attractive exterior paint treatment can enhance the curb appeal of virtually any home, building or exterior structure.

To see a complete list of the 60 finalists involved in the search for the “Prettiest Painted Places in America”, visit blog.paintquality.com.

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About the Paint Quality Institute (SM)

Since 1989, The Paint Quality Institute (SM) has been educating people on the advantages of using quality interior and exterior paints and coatings. The Paint Quality Institute's goal is to help educate consumers, contractors and designers by providing information on the virtues of quality paint as well as color trends and decorating with paint through a variety of instructional platforms and conferences, and traditional and new media vehicles. More information can be found at www.paintquality.com.

 
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