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Secret Service Releases New Conduct Rules PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 13:07

Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement after the U.S. Secret Service released new conduct rules.  Grassley has been pressing for an independent investigation of the Colombia prostitution scandal and other misconduct that recently has been alleged.  The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Secret Service.

“It’s too bad common sense policy has to be dictated in this manner.  New conduct rules are necessary to preventing more shenanigans from happening in the future, and whether these are the best, and most cost effective, rules to stop future misconduct remains to be seen.  That’s why a sheet of paper with new rules doesn’t negate the previous actions, and why it remains necessary to hold the agency and the agents accountable following a complete and independent investigation.”

 
FCC nominees, scrutiny over FCC handling of LightSquared PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:49

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following statement on his inquiry of the Federal Communications Commission’s handling of the LightSquared wireless project.  Today is the one-year anniversary of Grassley’s first letter to the agency on its decision-making regarding the project.

“Exactly one year ago today, I wrote my first letter to the FCC on LightSquared.  At that time, headlines were describing interference concerns between LightSquared and Global Positioning System devices.  LightSquared’s primary backer was in the news over having attracted the Securities and Exchange Commission’s attention.  I wondered why the FCC had given expedited preliminary approval to a project led by someone under SEC investigation and with seemingly serious interference concerns.  I began seeking the FCC’s insight into its decision-making on this project.  The agency turned out to be among the least responsive I’ve ever come across in 30 years of conducting constitutional oversight of the executive branch of government.  The commission suggested my staff go through the Freedom of Information Act and said it would take two years to get a response.  The commissioner told me the commission responds only to the chairmen of the two House and Senate committees of jurisdiction.  In effect, that leaves 99.6 percent of Congress out of luck if we have questions about the agency’s decision-making.

“As I began my investigation, facts came to light that raised more questions about the FCC’s actions.  E-mails showed that LightSquared’s CEO sought meetings with the White House while mentioning attendance at fundraisers for President Obama.  Then, news reports showed the White House pressured a four-star general to downplay the threat LightSquared posed to GPS.

“I continued to seek the information on the general principle that the public’s business ought to be public.  The FCC continued to stonewall, so I placed a hold on two FCC commissioner nominees in an effort to get the information I requested.  Still, the agency stonewalled.

“House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans made a comprehensive document request of the FCC on LightSquared and are giving me access to the documents as the agency provides them.  I appreciate the access.

“At first, the documents were evasively superficial.  The submissions contained thousands of pages of already public information, including news clips.  The FCC played games to inflate its page count, which is not the mark of a responsive agency.  Gradually, the document submissions began to include some substantive information.

“So far, the documents I have seen begin to give some answers about why the FCC gave such fast preliminary approval to LightSquared.  The documents show that rather than being an objective arbiter, the commission appeared to be enthusiastic about the LightSquared project and wanted to see it materialize.  The prospect of a new broadband provider that could challenge current providers was appealing to the FCC, according to the documents.  It’s impossible to draw a complete picture of the FCC’s considerations in green-lighting LightSquared because the documents available so far do not offer a comprehensive view.  However, it appears the FCC wanted LightSquared to succeed.

“It may be that the FCC was so intrigued by the prospect of a new broadband provider that it overlooked technical concerns or the financial implications if the project’s chief investor were to undergo SEC sanctions.  I can’t say for sure because I don’t have enough information to make a determination.

“However, the documents raise an important question.  Is the FCC a neutral arbiter weighing all public interests in each case, or is it a cheerleader for favored projects?  If it is a cheerleader, which is inappropriate, why was such an obviously flawed project selected?

“The documents I’ve seen so far raise more questions than I had before.  However, since there is now a process in place to obtain all of the relevant documents from the FCC, I intend to lift my hold on the two FCC nominees.  But my inquiry is not over.  I’m told there are 11,000 more pages of documents from the FCC on LightSquared that will be forthcoming to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  I look forward to receiving access to those documents.

“The public deserves definitive answers on why the FCC handled LightSquared the way it did.  Ultimately, the agency decided the GPS interference concerns were too great and withdrew LightSquared’s waiver.  LightSquared’s primary investor continues to receive intense scrutiny from the SEC.  Now, LightSquared might sue the government.  Investment is lost, and future investors might be reluctant to approach the FCC with projects.

“The FCC badly mishandled LightSquared.  Finding out exactly what went wrong is key toward preventing future debacles.  I hope the pending nominees, and the rest of the commission, will use the LightSquared situation as a case study in what not to do.

“The FCC controls a valuable public resource in the spectrum.  Its decisions affect consumers, companies, and jobs.  It should be fair, neutral, and above all, transparent.  Transparency brings accountability, which the FCC desperately needs.”

 
DAVENPORT WOMAN WINS $10,000 LOTTERY PRIZE PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Amy Garringer   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:40

DES MOINES, Iowa – A Davenport woman was casually scratching her “Pinball” ticket while waiting for her change and discovered she’d won a top prize of $10,000.

Nita Aurthur, 49, said she couldn’t believe what she was seeing when she won. She asked the clerk at Kwik Shop, 2805 Telegraph Road in Davenport to double-check for her.

“He told me to use the checker, and my hands were shaking I was so nervous,” Aurthur said. “Then it said, ‘Congratulations!’”

Aurthur said a few weeks ago, one of her friends had won a $100 prize playing Pinball, so she was curious about playing the game herself. She said she’s not sure it has really hit her yet.

“It probably won’t until I get the money in my hands,” Aurthur said as she claimed her prize April 19 at the Iowa Lottery’s regional office in Cedar Rapids.

Aurthur said she told her family about her big win.

“At first my mom said, ‘You’re joking!’ But now she believes me,” she said.

Aurthur, who’s the kitchen manager at Jersey Ridge Assisting Living in Davenport, said she plans to use some of her winnings to pay bills.

Pinball is a $2 scratch game. Players win a prize by matching any of the “target numbers” with either of the “pinball numbers” to win the prize shown for that number. If players find a “lightning bolt” symbol, they win that prize instantly. The overall odds for winning a prize in the game are 1 in 3.82.

Eleven top prizes of $10,000 are still up for grabs in Pinball, as well as 95 prizes of $500 and more than 720 prizes of $100.

Players can enter eligible nonwinning scratch tickets online to earn “Points For Prizes™” points. The point value will be revealed to the player on the website upon successful submission of each eligible valid ticket. There is a limit of 30 ticket entries per day. To participate in Points For Prizes™, a player must register for a free account at ialottery.com. Registration is a one-time process. Merchandise that can be ordered by using points will be listed on the website in the Points For Prizes™ online store. Players can choose from items in categories such as apparel, automotive, jewelry, sporting, tools and more.

Since the lottery’s start in 1985, its players have won more than $2.8 billion in prizes while the lottery has raised more than $1.3 billion for the state programs that benefit all Iowans.

Today, lottery proceeds in Iowa have three main purposes: They provide support for veterans, help for a variety of significant projects through the state General Fund, and backing for the Vision Iowa program, which was implemented to create tourism destinations and community attractions in the state and build and repair schools.

 

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The J. Jilll Compassion Fund PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Debra Fernandes   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:49
In Honor of Mother’s Day and with the Message “Compassion, Pass It On”

The J.Jill Compassion Fund Will Raise Funds For Programs That Support Women in Need

April 30 – May 13

April 23, 2012 -Quincy, MA – In honor of Mother’s Day, and with the overall message “Compassion, Pass It On,” J. Jill will launch a two-week initiative to raise funds and build awareness of its mission to support programs that combat issues of poverty and homelessness that affect women and children. With a goal to raise $150,000, J.Jill will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their exclusive J.Jill Spring 2012 Compassion tee to $100,000, to the The J. Jill Compassion Fund ; as well as $1 per transaction, up to $50,000, on any sale in stores, online or via catalog, April 30 through May 13.

In addition, to illustrate the theme Compassion, Pass It On, J.Jill has collaborated with longtime charitable partner Women in Need’s Homework Helpers, an afterschool educational program for homeless children in New York City, on a very special art project. The children of WIN’s Homework Helpers created imaginative and colorful fingerprint artwork with messages of compassion for e-cards that consumers can “pass on” to friends and loved ones. The e-cards are free to consumers, and for each e-card sent The J.Jill Compassion Fund will donate $1 directly to Women in Need’s Homework Helpers, up to $50,000. The e-cards are available beginning April 30 at www.jjill.com/compassion.

For the past decade, The J. Jill Compassion Fund has been unwavering in its mission to support organizations that help disadvantaged and homeless women become self-sufficient. Today, as these issues are affecting a growing number of women from all walks of life, J. Jill is even more committed to helping women in need overcome these challenges and find permanent solutions. With the generous support of J.Jill customers, the Compassion Fund has donated more than $3 million to over 60 local organizations that help women in need regain their self-sufficiency.

About J.Jill

J.Jill is a leading multichannel fashion retailer of women’s apparel, accessories and footwear. The perfect balance of fashion and comfort, J.Jill offers exclusive designs through their specialty retail stores nationwide, as well as their website and catalog  businesses. Founded in 1959 and based in Quincy, Mass., J.Jill is a growing cross-channel business with more than 230 retail
stores in 44 states, in-house production of more than 26 catalogs a year, an ever-growing website business, and a state-of-the-art distribution center in Tilton, NH.

About the J.Jill Compassion Fund

Founded in 2002, the J.Jill Compassion Fund is committed to providing support to community-based organizations that help disadvantaged and homeless women become self-sufficient.  J. Jill is honored to give to local organizations that help women in need regain their independence through programs that focus on education, job skills, and transitional and affordable housing. A donor-advised fund of the Boston Foundation, the J.Jill Compassion Fund has donated more than $3 million to over 60 organizations nationwide.

About Women In Need and Homework Helpers

Women In Need, Inc., has been serving homeless families in New York City for nearly 30 years, offering housing, help and hope to women and their children. J.Jill has been a friend to WIN for nearly 15 of those years. In 2001, Women In Need, with J.Jill as a full partner, created its Homework Helpers program for schoolage children in their shelters. Homework Helpers staff works with the NYC Board of Education to help stigmatized and often traumatized children excel in their schoolwork in a fun and nurturing environment.

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Concerns with Providing DHS More Authority Given Track Record PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:35

Prepared Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

Executive Business Meeting

Thursday, April 26, 2012

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

On the agenda today are three nominations ready for committee action – Curiel, Shea, and Shelby.  I believe a roll call may be requested for Mr. Shea’s nomination.

 

Before we consider the nominations, I would like to speak about yesterday’s hearing and a serious matter I raised with Secretary Napolitano.  I asked Secretary Napolitano about the Department of Homeland Security’s failure to approve a single chemical facility site security plan under the Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS).

 

The CFATS program was passed by Congress in 2006 to provide baseline security for chemical facilities that store certain types of dangerous chemicals.  Regulations were issued in 2007 that required sites to submit security plans for approval.  To date, 4,200 sites have submitted plans to DHS.  However, DHS has not approved a single one despite operating the program for more than five years and spending nearly a half-a-billion taxpayer dollars.  As implemented, this program is a disaster.

 

Secretary Napolitano admitted that the program is not operating as they would like.  I think that is a major understatement and an internal review of the failures of the program underscores how this is an understatement.

 

This memorandum, dated November 10, 2011, is one of the most candid assessments of an agency’s failure I’ve ever seen. The authors found, among other things, that no site plans have been approved and that even if they were, DHS is not prepared to conduct compliance inspections.

 

Additionally, the memorandum paints the picture of an agency that has lost control.  Specifically, the authors found:

 

·         The Department had hired “people who do not have the necessary skills to perform key mission and essential functions.”

 

·         “While the vast majority of employees are talented, hardworking people, there are numerous exceptions.”

 

·         “There is a catastrophic failure to ensure personal and professional accountability” among agency employees.

 

·         The “lack of focus and vision has resulted in problems with how we have spent our money, and how we are managing those funds.”

 

There are other major problems, including car fleet management problems, lack of oversight and accountability for purchase cards, travel cards used for unauthorized expenses, property management issues, and records management.

 

While I appreciate the candor in this memorandum and the significant detail included by those tasked with completing this analysis, it raises serious questions about how DHS uses taxpayer dollars.  It also raises questions about DHS’s ability to implement the policies Congress has entrusted it with.

 

I’m also concerned with what this entails for those who are currently seeking to give DHS more regulatory authority and hundreds of millions more in taxpayer money to oversee cybersecurity.

 

For example, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy last night on the cybersecurity legislation the House is currently addressing.  One of the major reasons the statement was allegedly issued was that the bill “fails to provide authorities to ensure that the Nation’s core critical infrastructure is protected.”  In other words, the President won’t sign the bill into law because it doesn’t give DHS the power to regulate the private sector.

 

I’ll admit I have been skeptical of giving DHS the power to regulate cybersecurity from the outset.

 

But, I do believe the threat to our country from cyber-attacks is real.  That is why I have cosponsored S.2151, the SECURE I.T. Act.  This legislation will enhance cybersecurity without creating a new bureaucracy at DHS and without stifling innovation in the private sector with burdensome new regulations.

 

After reading this DHS memorandum, my initial skepticism against DHS’s role in cybersecurity has turned into outright concern.  Based upon the failures of CFATS to date, such an approach would surely lead to more wasted taxpayer dollars with nothing to show for it.  Given the fiscal situation we face, this is an unacceptable option.

 

Despite the failures outlined by DHS’s own internal review, Secretary Napolitano did her best yesterday to say the program is moving forward.  I have my doubts, given the level of failures cited in this memorandum.  I’d be surprised if DHS has been able to turn this program around overnight.  So, I’ll be requesting a briefing from DHS to find out what is being done to fix these problems.

 

Regardless of what DHS has done to address these problems, the fact remains that the American taxpayers are out nearly a half-a-billion dollars with nothing to show for it.  We have a duty to conduct oversight on the failures and problems mentioned in this memorandum.  We have a duty to our constituents and all taxpayers to ensure these problems are fixed and that they don’t continue.

 

Absent proof, and not just assurances, that the problems are fixed, we should not even consider giving DHS another ounce of regulatory authority or additional layers of bureaucracy to deal with Cybersecurity.  I believe Cybersecurity is an important topic that we need to address, but not at the expense of throwing more taxpayer dollars at an agency with the sort of problems this internal review details.

 

Thank you.


 
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