Category Archives: government

Doctor Newson fired from Bay County Health Department because he was educating the public with sardonic warnings

Dr. Jason Newsom railed against burgers, french fries, fried chicken and sweet tea in his campaign to promote better eating in a part of the country known as the Redneck Riviera. He might still be leading the charge if he had only left the doughnuts alone.

A 38-year-old former Army doctor who served in Iraq, Newsom returned home to Panama City a few years ago to run the Bay County Health Department and launched a one-man war on obesity by posting sardonic warnings on an electronic sign outside:

“Sweet Tea (equals) Liquid Sugar.”

“Hamburger (equals) Spare Tire.”

“French Fries (equals) Thunder Thighs.”

He also called out KFC by name to make people think twice about fried chicken.

Then he parodied “America Runs on Dunkin’,” the doughnut chain’s slogan, with: “America Dies on Dunkin’.”

Some power players in the Gulf Coast tourist town decided they had had their fill.

A county commissioner who owns a doughnut shop and two lawyers who own a new Dunkin’ Donuts on Panama City Beach turned against him, along with some of his own employees, Newsom says. After the lawyers threatened to sue, his bosses at the Florida Health Department made him remove the anti-fried dough rants and eventually forced him to resign, he says.

“I picked on doughnuts because those things are ubiquitous in this county. Everywhere I went, there were two dozen doughnuts on the back table. At church, there were always doughnuts on the back table at Sunday school. It is social expectation thing,” says Newsom, a lean 6-foot, 167-pounder in a county where 39 percent of all adults were overweight in 2007 and one in four was considered obese.

Newsom was hired by the state Health Department to direct the county agency. His $140,000-a-year salary is paid jointly by the state and the county. His job primarily involves educating the public about health issues — swine flu, AIDS and the like — but he also decided to address the dangers of glazed, sprinkled and jelly-filled treats.

He angered staff members by barring doughnuts from department meetings and announcing he would throw the fat-laden sweets away if he saw them in the break room. He also banned candy bars in the vending machines, putting in peanuts instead.

In May, lawyers Bo Rivard and Michael Duncan, co-owners of a new Dunkin’ Donuts, asked Newsom to take down the “America Dies on Dunkin'” message. Newsom already had run other anti-doughnut warnings, including “Doughnuts (equals) Diabetes,” and “Dunkin’ Donuts (equals) Death.”

The businessmen had the backing of County Commissioner Mike Thomas, who owns a diner and a doughnut shop. Thomas called for Newsom’s ouster, saying the doctor shouldn’t have named businesses on the message board.

“I think he was somewhat of a zealot,” Thomas says. “I don’t have a problem with him pushing an agenda, it’s the way he did it. People borrowed money to go into business and they are being attacked by the government.”

A short time after Newsom’s meeting with Rivard and Duncan, Newsom says, his bosses at the state Health Department told him that his leadership wasn’t wanted and that he could be fired or resign. He chose to resign May 8 but has reapplied for the job.

“I have never been known for my subtlety. I don’t have a knack for it. I speak the truth to people and just assume that that my data and purpose are so real and true that everyone will see the value of what I’m doing,” says Newsom, who now works at a prison, doing exams of inmates.

Rivard and Duncan did not return numerous calls to their offices.

“Dunkin’ Donuts is pleased that the signs have been removed,” Andrew Mastrangelo, a spokesman for Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Donuts said in an e-mail.

The Florida Health Department has refused to talk about Newsom since he is considered a job applicant. “We will be happy to talk to you after the position has been filled,” department spokeswoman Susan Smith said in an e-mail.

Newsom is hoping to get his job back so that he can resume his campaign against overeating.

“My method was a little provocative and controversial,” he says, “but there wasn’t a person in Bay County who wasn’t talking about health and healthy eating.”

Article written by Melissa Nelson at the Associated Press.

Advertisements

Chicago Government is closed for business today!

City Hall, public libraries, healthclinics and most city offices will be closed today.  Emergency service providers including police, firefighters and paramedics are working at full strength, but most services not directly related to public safety will not be provided.

As part of the 2009 budget for The City of Chicago, three reduced service days were planned for 2009.  August 17th , November 27th, December 24th and December 30th.  However he City Council decided to move the December 30th closure for today.

The 3 day’s of closures anticipates a savings of $8.3 million for the city.

“Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain services for Chicagoans,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a news release. “This plan relies on most of our civilian employees to be part of the solution to our very serious budget challenges. I want to thank them again for their sacrifice.”

US State and Local government grows despite recession

While businesses across the United States slash jobs, state and local governments have actually increased employment slightly since the economic recession began in December 2007, according to a report released on Thursday.

“As is the typical pattern in recessions, overall state and local government employment continued to grow after the start of the recession, although there has been a small decline since the August 2008 peak,” said Donald J. Boyd, author of the report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, in a statement.

Total employment in state and local government rose in 30 states, fell in 16 and was unchanged in four during the last year, the report found.

Governments have added about 110,000 jobs since the recession began, according to the report by the Rockefeller Institute, which is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York.

The recession’s impact on government employment typically lags that of the private sector, Boyd said.

“Further employment reductions are almost certainly on the way,” he said.

At least 20 states have imposed unpaid furlough days on their workers to cut spending without having to resort to layoffs, according to the report.

States also have been able to avoid shedding jobs with help from the more than $36 billion for fiscal relief they have received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the report said. (Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Jan Paschal)

700 of 796 stimulus jobs are state workers in New Hampshire!

Nashua got the fourth most cash of any New Hampshire community from the first phase of federal stimulus money, falling behind Manchester, Windham and Concord.

Nashua, the state’s second largest city, received $16.1 million from 20 different grant programs ranging from $5,005 for an air conditioner and other upgrades at the Nashua Children’s Home to $3.2 million in federal subsidy to children with special needs in the city’s schools.

Manchester received the most, $40.6 million, while the capital city, Concord, got $24.3 million.

Acting State Stimulus Office Director Orville “Bud” Fitch presented an inch-thick, initial progress report on $336 million in discretionary, federal stimulus money that thus far has flowed into the state.

The figures will be updated quarterly, he told the Executive Council at its breakfast meeting on the Manchester Community College campus.

“These numbers are not complete, but I am highly confident that they are up to date,” Fitch said during an interview.

The report also revealed that through the end of June that stimulus money created or saved 796 jobs, with 700 of those state workers who did not have to get laid off thanks to the federal grants, Fitch said.

Federal highway money accounted for 75 jobs and weatherization programs kept or added 16 to the payroll, he added.

Road or building project locale, rather than median income or economic woes, played a big part in communities that received an Obama administration windfall.

For example, Windham is only the 21st largest community in the state with more than 11,500 residents, but it received the second greatest grant total, $27.6 million.

That’s because more than 95 percent of the money going to the town – $27.3 million – is to pay for widening that stretch of Interstate 93 that goes through the town.

Likewise, Concord got $7.6 million to resurface from Exits 14 through 17 on I-93 and claimed as its own many statewide initiatives such as the near-$700,000 grant to create a State Police cold case unit

Nashua received $6.3 million in transportation money, much of it to reconstruct the aircraft-parking apron at Boire Field and make other airport improvements.

Manchester, with 60 grants, got considerably more than Nashua, thanks in part to education grants that were based on the number of low-income students in Title I and students with special needs.

Education money to Manchester ($16.3 million) was more than double what Nashua got ($7.1 million).

Manchester’s grant total ballooned as its 25 grants to low-income housing projects ($6.3 million) were individually named while Nashua’s money pool was initially given only to the Nashua Housing Authority ($1.2 million).

Fitch noted that stimulus money going to programs like the anti-poverty Southern New Hampshire Services Inc. are listed as going to Manchester but spread throughout the southern tier to include Nashua.

Locally, other grant totals thus far included Amherst ($535,959), Hudson ($1.4 million), Merrimack ($1.2 million), Milford ($874,288), Hollis ($450,213), Litchfield ($532,683), Brookline ($146,031), Londonderry ($1.2 million), Lyndeborough ($30,100) Mason ($22,044), Mont Vernon ($57,867), New Ipswich ($482,464), Pelham ($556,246), Sharon ($0), Temple ($0) and Wilton ($177,654).

Within the next week, Fitch said his office plans to have posted in Google map fashion a push pin next to each community the public can click on to find a full listing of all stimulus grant dollars going to that city or town.

Gov. John Lynch praised Fitch, who’s been working on his own since a summer intern went back to school. The Legislature has already approved a 15-month, $2 million budget for the stimulus office that will ultimately have five, full-time staff including a $120,000-a-year director.

“He does a remarkable job equal to the work of a dozen people,” Lynch said.

Article is written by Kevin Landrigan with the Nashua Telegraph in New Hampshire.

O’Reilly: “A Sad Day for America. Al Franken becomes a US Senator”

Judge deflats a tire of car parked in restricted parking zone

circuit court judge has acknowledged he deflated a tire on a car parked in a restricted area near his courthouse earlier this week. But he isn’t apologizing.

Charles County Judge Robert C. Nalley told station WUSA on Wednesday that he let out the air because leaving notes for those parked illegally isn’t effective.

The chief administrative judge for Maryland’s 7th Circuit said Nalley told him what he had done on Monday. Judge William D. Missouri suggested to The Washington Post that Nalley might be sanctioned.

The owner of the car, Jean Washington, works part-time at the courthouse in La Plata as part of a cleaning crew and said she didn’t know she couldn’t park in the restricted area. She said she never received any warnings.

Police are investigating the incident.

Cuba has a shortage of toilet paper!

ODD-US-CRISIS-TOILETPAPER-odd

Cuba, in the grip of a serious economic crisis, is running short of toilet paper and may not get sufficient supplies until the end of the year, officials with state-run companies said Friday.

Officials said they were lowering the prices of 24 basic goods to help Cubans get through the difficulties provoked in part by the global financial crisis and three destructive hurricanes that struck the island last year.

Cuba’s financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat.

“The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,” an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run RAdio Rebelde.

The shipment will enable the state-run company “to supply this demand that today is presenting problems,” he said.

Cuba both imports toilet paper and produces its own, but does not currently have enough raw materials to make it, he said.

One of the measures taken to address the cash crunch is a 20 percent cut in imports, which in recent days has become evident in the reduction of goods in state-run stores.

Cuba imports about 60 percent of its food.

Despite the shortages, prices will be cut between 5 percent and 27 percent for some food, drugs and personal hygiene products, officials said.

A visit to a store in Havana‘s Vedado neighborhood on Friday found that prices had dropped for mayonnaise, barbecue sauce and canned squid.

One customer, who gave his name only as Pedro, complained that “it doesn’t look like prices have been lowered for the fundamental products” such as cooking oil.

Ana Maria Ortega, deputy director for military-run retail conglomerate TRD Caribe, said there will be no shortage of basic goods.

“The conditions are in place to maintain the supply of essential products,” she said on the same radio program.

Cubans receive a subsidized food ration from the government each month that they say meets their needs for about two weeks.

President Rail Castro told the National Assembly last week that the government had cut its spending budget for the second time this year and has been renegotiating its debt and payments with foreign providers.

Cuba has long blamed the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against the island for many of its economic problems. It also said that last year’s hurricanes did $10 billion worth of damage that forced the government to spend heavily on imports of food and reconstruction products.

Castro, who replaced his ailing older brother Fidel Castro as president last year, also has complained that Cuba’s productivity is too low.

He has taken various steps to boost output, including putting more state-owned land in private hands and pushing for salaries to be based on productivity.

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta and Esteban Israel; Editing by Jeff Franks and Will Dunham)