Council mulls city manager appointment

first_img By admin – March 18, 2018 WhatsApp Facebook Council mulls city manager appointment Council appoints interim city managerInterim city attorney says ‘this is a new day’ Pinterest Previous articleELAM: U.S. gains lead in oil productionNext articleFood bank chief transforms agency into a ‘shining star’ admin WhatsAppcenter_img Pinterest Facebook Twitter Michael Marrero, interim Odessa city manager. It’s been about six months since the Odessa City Council named Michael Marrero the interim city manager, but the city leaders have yet to name him permanently to the post or consider any other candidates.But council members will likely appoint Marrero in the coming weeks, said District 4 Councilman Mike Gardner. Gardner said from the beginning, council members and Marrero had discussed an interim period of about six months as ideal.“There hasn’t been a search for anybody else,” Gardner said. “He’s got the most experience, and he has been in on this hotel/conference center deal from the beginning. He knows our city as well as anyone around.”Marrero, who has worked for the city for two decades, served as former City Manager Richard Morton’s top deputy, managing departments of the city that deal directly with the public apart from fire and police services. Those included parks, public works, code enforcement and planning and zoning.In the top post, which works most closely with the City Council, he began overseeing everything. Marrero said he has not sought city manager jobs elsewhere or discussed an appointment with the council in months because of more pressing city work.“I’m really enjoying the role now, but as some point I’m sure we’ll discuss it,” Marrero said, adding he plans to apply for the permanent post. “This is home, so yeah.”Three City Council members had combined to remove Morton on Sept. 12 — District 1 Councilman Malcolm Hamilton, District 3 Councilwoman Barbara Graff and District 5 Councilman Filiberto Gonzales. All five City Council members approved Marrero’s interim appointment about a week later.In November, the City Council approved a raise for Marrero to more than $188,000 to reflect his new duties in the top administrative role.“I wouldn’t want to change it, and he’s done a good job in the last six months,” Gardner said.In addition to the city manager job, a decision on a new city attorney also lies ahead for the City Council following the resignation of Larry Long, who was allowed to retire at the end of February following a sexual harassment complaint corroborated by the city’s human resources department.So far, the City Council has not begun a search for Long’s permanent replacement, Gardner said.Interim City Attorney Gary Landers began running the city’s legal department on March 1. Landers is an employee of the Austin-based Bojorquez Law Firm, which specializes in municipal law. The City Council last month approved paying the firm more than $25,000 a month to the firm.The city budgeted $130,000 for the legal services, which include Landers working in Odessa five days a week, but the contract can be terminated at anytime.Landers will not seek the permanent appointment, he said in an interview last week. He said the top city’s two appointees serving in an interim role presented an opportunity to assess the direction of the city. “How long is the interim going to last?” Landers said at the time. “Well, that’s why we call it an interim. It will last until it’s over.”Previous coverage Twitter Local NewsGovernmentlast_img read more

Tedeschi Trucks Band Continue Protest Theme During Night Two At Chicago Theatre [Videos]

first_imgTedeschi Trucks Band performed their second of three nights at the Chicago Theatre last night, setting the tone strong in response to the day’s Inauguration events. The opening set featured “Isn’t It A Pity” with guitarist Luther Dickinson, “Get What You Deserve”, “Do I Look Worried” and more expressive messages that were seemingly directed to the state of the nation.Husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi have both performed at the White House before, but it seems there will be an absence of musical talent for at least the next four years. Their emotions regarding recent events were cemented last night, following the previous night’s hints with “Are You Ready”, “The Sky Is Crying”, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”, and more.With covers of George Harrison, Charles Segar, Four Tops, Blind Faith, Leon Russell, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Derek and the Dominos in the mix, the twelve piece powerhouse took down what was a difficult pill to swallow with grit and grace. See below for a few clips from Instagram as well as the full setlist. Setlist: Tedeschi Trucks Band | Chicago Theatre | Chicago, IL | 1/20/17Set I: Isn’t It A Pity*, Get What You Deserve, Do I Look Worried, Until You Remember, Key To The Highway*, Loving You Is Sweeter, Within You > Just As Strange, Had To CrySet II: Color of the Blues, Anyhow, Bound For Glory, Drift Away, Delta Lady, Crying Over You, Laugh About It, Pity The Fool, Idle WindE: Anyday**w/ Luther Dickinson[photo via Instagram user @uncle_al_]last_img read more

Glimpsing Dublin from the wine-dark sea

first_imgAlmost 3,000 years ago there was Homer’s “Odyssey,” nearly the oldest work in the Western literary canon. Later came Plato’s “Symposium,” and later still “Oedipus the King,” by Sophocles. Then there was Dante’s “Inferno,” and soon Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”In 1922 came “Ulysses,” James Joyce’s playful repository of all these great works. It was an homage to Homer’s wanderer, full of winks to Shakespeare (more than 300, by one count). It also echoed millennia of artistic grappling with the human condition and its terrors, disappointments, surprises, jokes, and joys.All of these great works and more, from all of these ages, were encountered this semester by 79 students — 80 percent of them freshmen — in a first-time Harvard course called Humanities 10a, “Colloquium: Essential Works 1.” The class is a feature of a humanities curricular reform that began in 2011, in part as a response to declining enrollments. And it builds on new “framework courses” at Harvard College devoted to the arts of listening, reading, and looking.Hum 10, as it’s called by students, is a two-semester gateway to essential literary works. After Homer and before Joyce were texts by Aristotle, Descartes, Rousseau, Austen, Kafka, and others. In the spring, Hum 10b will start with “Waiting for Godot” and end with “The Iliad.”The complementary courses “were created with the sense that the work of culture has evolved through the ages as an ongoing conversation,” said Diana Sorensen, dean for the arts and humanities. “It’s a conversation with the past, with the present, with the future — and we want to invite our students to be part of it.”Harvard cultural historian and English professor Louis Menand (center) joined Humanities 10a students Mitchell Edwards ’18 (left) and Alexandra Walsh ’18 (right) at Houghton Library, where class visitors examined letters, folios, and first editions. Photo by Mike Oliveri/Gen Ed ProgramLike Homer, Hum 10 is a blast from the past. After World War II, a similar two-semester course, “The Epic and the Novel” (Humanities 2), was required of all undergrads at Harvard, part of a reform called “General Education.” As debates over the canon intensified in the 1960s, such broad courses fell out of favor. “The Epic and the Novel,” was last offered in 1973, though it was as popular that year as decades before; more than 850 students signed up. Only “Principles of Economics” had more registrants.The new Hum 10 is modestly sized, but the commitment around it has been anything but. Five faculty members co-teach, meeting for lunch every Monday to discuss pedagogy. Each leads a weekly section, a rarity at Harvard, where the role is typically filled by a grad student. Hum 10 also includes activities outside the classroom, such as visits to plays, museums, and libraries.Three papers of escalating length are required, along with 250-word weekly responses for the sections. And then of course there’s the reading list.“I am chugging through ‘Ulysses’ at the moment,” said Grant Hoechst ’18, whose first semester at Harvard was otherwise been taken up with courses in computer science, math, and biochemistry. The list was more thrilling than daunting, he added. “I was really happy to have this humanities class give a sense of balance to my schedule.”Choosing the syllabus “was an exercise,” said John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities Stephen Greenblatt ― an attempt by the five faculty members to collectively identify “what books changed our lives.”Greenblatt, a Shakespeare scholar, had co-taught English 110, a scaled-down version of Hum 10, with Louis Menand, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English. Hum 10 “became the next, bigger version of that,” said Sorensen, with more reading and more sections. “It’s like a deep immersion, where the students and faculty are committed to these texts and to the adventure of reading together.”The three-month adventure turned out to be a good one. “The happy news is that it’s actually incredibly pleasurable on both sides,” said Greenblatt. “I love these students —and they seem to have loved the course.”English 110 was capped at 36 students and spanned just one semester. But it introduced the idea of faculty leading sections, in which discussions unfold as in seminars. “We thought we should, for one thing, know what the students were thinking and teach them in a much more direct, hands-on way,” said Greenblatt, who also wanted to break from just lecturing to big classes. “There is a risk at Harvard that you only know a small number of students whom you teach.”Menand agreed, adding: “With this kind of material, a huge amount of the learning takes place though discussions. We both found this very rewarding personally.”Taken together, the faculty members of Hum 10 illustrate the course’s scholarly reach. Greenblatt and Menand are both winners of the Pulitzer Prize. Professor of English Amanda Claybaugh is an expert on novels of the 19th century. Panagiotis Roilos is the George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies and of Comparative Literature. Alison Simmons is Harvard’s Samuel H. Wolcott Professor of Philosophy.The course was a learning experience for everyone. New insights into familiar works appear “every time I teach,” said Menand. For Claybaugh, the Monday lunches were “the best way for all of us to up our teaching game.” Regular discourse on the art of teaching was equally important to Simmons. “One of the wonderful things about [the course] was working with colleagues,” she said. “Suddenly there were five of us in a room talking about how to grade papers.”There were other lessons. For Simmons, who studied psychology before turning to philosophy, Hum 10 was a way to catch up on deep reading beyond Aristotle and Nietzsche. She read “Ulysses” for the first time this summer and was on her second reading in early December. “I found it daunting and I still find it daunting,” she said. “I’ve taken like one English course in my life. I was not a native humanities person.”The challenges went both ways, she added of the long reading list, full of complex seminal texts. “Another thing we wanted to make clear: The humanities are not easy.”The list had logic behind it. Many of the texts were a way to investigate the cultural antecedents within “Ulysses.” It’s a modern, narrative-breaking text that depends on the old and the ancient. Joyce followed Homeric parallels, revived Elizabethan wit, and recast the interiority of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” as stream of consciousness. (One scholar has estimated that “Ulysses” includes 321 references to Shakespeare works — one every other page. A third connect to “Hamlet.”)“We tried our best to chose texts that would communicate with each other and that in some way would end up in ‘Ulysses,’” said Simmons of Joyce and his “self-conscious   mimicking of the ‘Odyssey’ — how he is returning to the old text and doing something new with it.” The course’s extracurricular activities helped reinforce that sense of cultural circularity and dependence, said Simmons.A visit to Houghton Library was planned for the last week of class. “They have everything,” said Menand, including originals of most of the class texts. Among the items that were set for display: a Shakespeare First Folio; “placards” — edits of sections of “Ulysses” in Joyce’s handwriting; correspondence; and a botany book with Rousseau’s handwriting in it.The actuality of the old texts — the copy of Descartes’ “Meditations” at Houghton, for instance — trumps flat screens and pixels, said Simmons, and provides “context [students] just didn’t have before.”That context is transnational and cross-cultural, too, said Roilos, a critical theorist whose expertise includes postclassical Greek literature. “Students especially learn that our own cultural context and creativity are not the only ones in the world.”The students have been eager, inquisitive, and motivated, said Roilos, creating a high point in his 21 years in Cambridge. “This has been the very best teaching experience I have had a Harvard.”Enthusiasm on both sides of the lectern is a fond wish for this experimental gateway course in the humanities. The project fills a need, just as CS50 does for new students curious about computer science, but not eager to get too deep into the weeds of a discipline. For the humanities, there had not been a recent survey course that was pre-disciplinary, and analogous courses in history, literature, and music are a thing of the past, said Menand. “The feeling was that when freshmen arrive, whatever their intentions are, they get sucked into these non-humanities, large courses which are accessible and attractive ― and then we never get them back.”Hum 10b will reverse the cultural clock, moving from the near present (Samuel Beckett) to the far past (Homer). It’s a strategy the faculty call “the Targoff turn,” after Ramie Targoff, who suggested it at a Hum 10 dinner one day. (She’s a professor of English at Brandeis University, and married to Greenblatt.) “You find different things,” said Simmons, “than when you go chronologically.”“It’s an experiment,” said Menand, who will return with Greenblatt for the spring course. Joining them will be Emma Dench, a professor of the classics and of history; Edward J. Hall, the Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy; and Katharina Piechocki, an assistant professor of comparative literature.The course’s “challenge book,” as they say, will be Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” a work of fiction and philosophy. Cultural debts and circles are everywhere in the book. It influenced Kafka and Joyce; Freud loved it for its Oedipal content.But if the reading is once again heavy, the mood will likely stay light. The fall class was marked by equal parts rigor and joy. By December, each section had designed its own T-shirts, with “Hum 10” on the front and different words on the back. For Greenblatt’s section, students chose “Who’s there?” For Claybaugh’s, they went with words from a student’s rap version of Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy.”This sense of fun and belonging emerged from the classes. “We wanted these students to feel there is a community of people who are interested in the humanities here and this is how you become part of it,” said Claybaugh.Everyone involved hopes the idea flourishes. It’s hard to sustain 10 faculty members a year co-teaching one course, and no easier to continue to bring students to museums and concert halls. “We need to have some kind of funding,” said Menand, “or a donor to sustain it.”Support for Hum 10 certainly has not been restricted to its immediate participants.“Freshmen need a recognizable gateway course for the literary humanities, and this is it,” wrote James Simpson, Harvard’s Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English, in an email. “Undergraduates know that there are very great literary texts without knowledge of which they can’t be said to be educated; this course offers many of those texts, every one of which can change a life.”Martin Puchner, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature, called Hum 10 “a foundational course that challenges freshmen to engage with big books and big ideas. There’s something important about the humanities, and this course communicates that in a wonderful way.”In the final lecture, on Dec. 1, Hum 10 swerved momentarily into the world arena. Greenblatt had just returned from a Tehran conference on Shakespeare, “the magic carpet that took me to Iran,” he said, “where I had always wanted to go.” His remarks turned to the value of literature, no matter where you are.“Not just Shakespeare but literature as a whole is a form of human freedom,” said Greenblatt. “In a society where it’s exceedingly dangerous to speak directly about some of the most important things humans might like to speak about, Shakespeare provides precisely that portal.”Sorensen made the same point about listening and reading. “In these apparently innocent activities,” she said, “much is at stake.”last_img read more

Text of Governor Douglas’ letter on veto of Vermont Yankee decommissioning bill

first_imgMay 7, 2008The Honorable David A. GibsonSecretary of the SenateState House115 State Street, Drawer 33Montpelier, VT 05633Dear Mr. Secretary: Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning S.373, An Act Relating to Full Funding of Decommissioning Costs of a Nuclear Plant without my signature because of my objections described herein. The safety, reliability and affordability of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (the Yankee Station) are the most important issues related to its continued operation. I remain unwavering in my commitment to ensuring Vermont’s best interests are represented and that in every discussion of our energy future the safety and reliability of this facility come first. That is why I called for an independent safety assessment and look forward to signing legislation supporting a comprehensive audit of the Yankee Station. Vermonters need affordably priced power to grow the economy and create more and better paying jobs. As Vermont’s employers have made abundantly clear, they oppose this legislation because it would unnecessarily and substantially increase the future cost of electricity on both businesses and families. I agree. There is no doubt that increases in electricity costs slow economic growth and impair job creation, but rising electricity bills also impair the ability of working families to make ends meet. Achieving prosperity through affordability will remain a core focus of my administration. At a time when growing the economy must be state government’s top priority, I will not allow this legislation-or any other irresponsible legislation-to become law that would slow economic growth, or make our families less prosperous. I fully support ensuring that there is adequate funding for the total decommissioning of the Yankee Station by Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee (VY) whenever that should occur. There are, however, existing procedures to accomplish this goal, and many of my additional objections to S.373 are directed at the intrusion of the General Assembly in a matter better left to the expertise and procedures of the regulatory system and to the quasi-judicial Public Service Board (PSB). Indeed, S.373 can be characterized as legislative activity that risks blurring the lines of Government at the state and federal level, resulting ultimately in an unnecessary duplication of time and resources. Vermonters should know that VY is currently operating under a PSB order issued in 2002 that holds it responsible for the complete decommissioning of the Yankee Station. The anticipated cost of decommissioning is currently estimated to be $893 million. Today, approximately $425 million of that amount is in an established decommissioning trust fund. Because the PSB anticipated that the decommissioning fund might not be fully funded at the time the Yankee Station ceased operation, the PSB authorized VY in that 2002 order to use a decommissioning method, referred to as SAFSTOR, in which the nuclear facility is placed and maintained in a safe storage condition while the decommissioning fund grows and the facility is decontaminated. SAFSTOR is a decommissioning method approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Entergy Corporation, VY’s parent corporation, is also obligated by that same PSB order to guarantee $60 million of operating costs after the Yankee Station’s removal from commercial operation. This guarantee is Entergy’s only responsibility for decommissioning type activities under the PSB order currently in effect. S.373 purports to legislatively after the fact change the nature of this PSB order and to direct the outcome of a pending PSB docket, opened in January 2008, in which Entergy is seeking PSB approval to transfer the Yankee Station to another corporation, NewCo. The PSB’s responsibility is to determine whether this proposed transfer is in the public good. The PSB is required by law to review several factors, including the financial stability and soundness, technical knowledge and competence, and generally the effect on Vermont if the transaction were to be approved. The PSB has the authority and responsibility to impose conditions if the transfer is ultimately approved to ensure the public is protected. S.373, however, requires that the PSB determine, without the benefit of evidentiary hearings, “that the nuclear plant’s decommissioning fund and other funds and financial guarantees available solely for the purpose of decommissioning are adequate to pay for complete and immediate decommissioning at the time of the acquisition…” In other words, S.373 sets out to ultimately change the balance of public good in the pending PSB docket by demanding a payment in excess of $450 million, or its financial equivalent, if the transfer is approved. The General Assembly has substituted its judgment for that of the PSB and the NRC — the two regulatory bodies that have the ultimate authority regarding these matters and who have not deemed it to be in the public’s interest to order these payments to date. The consequences of such a mandate are many. First and foremost, S.373 is built upon several false premises. Key among them is that S.373 is merely cementing in statute an obligation already owed by Entergy Corporation. This is simply not accurate. As noted above, the current PSB orders hold VY, not Entergy, fully responsible for the Yankee Station’s decommissioning while Entergy is only responsible for a $60 million guarantee of funds to be committed to this process. In fact, if the NewCo transfer is approved by the PSB, responsibilities for decommissioning will remain with VY and Entergy’s $60 million guarantee will be converted to letters of credit from an investment grade banking institution. In addition, when the PSB allowed the sale of the facility in 2002, its order recognized that a great financial risk was being transferred away from Vermont ratepayers onto VY. The PSB stated:In today’s Order, we approve the sale of VermontYankee and the associated commitment for the presentowners to purchase 510 MW of power from the stationuntil 2012. We do so for two primary reasons. First,we conclude that ENVY and ENO will be likely tooperate the plant as well as, or better than, the current owners.Second, we find that, under most reasonably foreseeablescenarios, the transactions are highly likely to producean economic benefit for Vermont ratepayers. Together,these findings lead us to conclude that the sale will promotethe general good. . . In addition, the sale has the advantageof transferring to ENVY significant financial risks associatedwith continued ownership of Vermont Yankee. If the costs ofoperation increase (due to equipment failures, increased securityor other reasons), ENVY will bear the additional expenses;Green Mountain, Central Vermont, and Vermont ratepayerswill be shielded. Similarly, increases in the contributionsneeded to ensure decommissioning upon shutdown will not bepassed on to Vermont consumers.- Docket 6545, Order of 6/13/2002 at 3-4. In exchange for the transfer of risk to VY and the ability for it to use the SAFSTOR method to ensure funds are available for full decommissioning, Vermont ratepayers benefited by a $180 million sale price and a favorable Power Purchase Agreement between VY and Green Mountain Power Corporation and Central Vermont Public Service Company. The Power Purchase Agreement has, and will, save Vermonters approximately $743 million from 2003-2012 based on past market prices and future market forecasts. It is reasonable to conclude that had Vermont regulators required Entergy Corporation to make contributions to the fund at the time of the sale instead of transferring the risk to VY, the terms of the Power Purchase Agreement would have been far less favorable to Vermonters. S.373 also prematurely characterizes the decommissioning fund as “underfunded.” Just last year, the Legislature mandated several studies in Act 160 that are currently being undertaken by the Department of Public Service. The studies will analyze the decommissioning fund to determine if there are any material weaknesses in the fund prior to the State’s negotiations with VY when and if the Yankee Station is relicensed. These studies will be completed by year’s end, and then we will have a factual basis for understanding the status of the decommissioning fund and acting in an informed fashion. The Department has retained an independent financial expert who will study the many aspects of the financial obligations and capacity of VY to meet their commitments. The conclusions and recommendations from the responsible due diligence required by these studies is unknown because they are not yet complete. Instead of allowing the studies to conclude, the General Assembly chose to short-circuit a careful determination of the facts that may prove detrimental to Vermonters in the end. Whether it is prudent to require VY to make additional payments than those currently anticipated is a determination that I agree must be made–but not until all the facts are available on safety, reliability, and decommissioning. Another reason that I will not approve S.373 is because of the General Assembly’s unprecedented attempt to enact a new law that in fact would apply to an ongoing case before the PSB. Although it is not unusual for the General Assembly to share their concerns and opinions on matters pending before the Board through letters and public statements, I believe the General Assembly should not have attempted to go so far as to actually change the law, and hence the rules of the game, in the middle of an open docket. Finally, the PSB was created by the Legislature to delve into highly technical matters and the intricacies of transactions like NewCo to determine whether they servethe public good. It is through the evidentiary process, the written and oral testimony by experts in the field, and the crucible of cross-examination that the PSB makes its determinations. S.373 removes an important quasi-judicial decision from the body with the expertise, resources and authority to make it and instead allows legislative action to determine the outcome. After careful consideration of the facts, I am returning S.373. Sincerely, James H. Douglas GovernorJHD/pbblast_img read more