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Battle over Obama library takes turn for the absurd

By  |  April 24, 2014  |  No Comments

The debate over a $100 million Barack Obama Presidential Library has taken a political turn for the absurd.

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Target: John Doe prosecutors making up campaign law as they go along

Wisconsin  |  April 24, 2014

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. – The prosecutors in a secret investigation into conservative groups not only have offered a flimsy defense of their politically charged probe, they are badly interpreting state law to fit their purposes, say attorneys representing key conservative targets in a civil rights lawsuit.

HIGH ENERGY: NREL campus in Golden, Colo.

Workers at secret gov’t lab go nuts over bosses with high six-figure salaries

Colorado  |  April 24, 2014

By Tori Richards | Watchdog.org
GOLDEN, Colo. — A Watchdog.org report that top executives at a secret government lab earned salaries of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year set off angry debate among employees, internal documents show.
Lab analyst Jason Coughlin summed up the thoughts of fellow employees — who have wrestled with frozen salaries for years — at the [...]

GOVERNMENT PAPER FOR SILVER: Silver Airways receives millions in government subsidies annually.

Federally subsidized airline ordered to continue service

Mississippi  |  April 24, 2014

A federally subsidized airline serving several small airports in Mississippi and Alabama is going to have to stay put for the time being.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an order Tuesday mandating that Silver Airways continue its service under the Essential Air Service for the time being to Hattiesburg-Laurel, Meridian, Greenville and Tupelo airports in Mississippi and the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

TECHNOLOGY DIVIDE: Pennsylvania is the only state that prohibits local police from using radar to nab speeders. There's another push to change that this year.

Plan would give radar guns to local police in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania  |  April 24, 2014

By Andrew Staub | PA Independent
Pennsylvania motorists have long been able to set their cruise control a little bit faster if they know they’re driving on a road where local police enforce the speed limit.
That’s because Pennsylvania law only allows state police to use radar guns. Local police must rely on more primitive technology, such [...]

Charlie Crist

Candidate Crist courts green FL votes without mentioning green costs

Florida  |  April 24, 2014

Call it a green energy pledge for greenbacks.

Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist has vowed to use his future authority as governor to impose renewable energy standards similar to the 20 percent mandate he championed when last serving as Florida’s chief executive.

The former and potential two-time governor didn’t mention how he proposed to pay for clean energy.

The trade-off would include higher consumer prices and government subsidies, an energy expert told Watchdog.org.

New Mexico children will get a say in ranking their school's performance.

Louisiana offers new vocational technical program

National  |  April 24, 2014

Three quarters of Louisiana school districts have signed up for Jump Start, an apprenticeship program that allows high school students to get hands-on experience in trades like construction and welding.

Benefits are the root of increased personnel costs in the School District of Philadelphia.

Benefits are driving high personnel costs in Philadelphia schools

Pennsylvania  |  April 24, 2014

Benefits for district employees are valued, on average, at 40 percent of the cost of salaries.

Gov. Chris Christie promotes himself as a reformer at a 2011 town hall meeting in Evesham, NJ.

NJ Gov. Christie sheds his ‘open and honest’ reformer disguise

New Jersey  |  April 24, 2014

 
By Mark Lagerkvist | New Jersey Watchdog
Gov. Chris Christie’s office sends New Jersey Watchdog a message every other Tuesday — a reminder of how the governor and his staff flout the law and fight transparency in state government.
“This email serves to hereby request a two-week extension regarding your OPRA request nos. W82964 and W82965,” it states.
Since [...]

Sen. David Zuckerman

Sen. Zuckerman admits labels don’t say if GMOs in food as bill heads to governor

Vermont  |  April 24, 2014

While lawmakers in the state House on Wednesday voted 114-30 to require the labeling of genetically modified foods in Vermont, the bill’s top Senate sponsor admitted the labels likely won’t tell consumers if foods contain GMOs.

“There’s two possible labeling phrases: ‘does contain genetically engineered organisms’ or ‘may contain genetically engineered organisms,’ state Sen. David Zuckerman, Progressive Democrat-Chittenden, told Watchdog.org.

“One of the criticisms was, that by simply stating ‘may contain GMOs,’ the label is not giving consumers specific information. In other words, ‘Is it GMO corn?’ That would be important to some … I agree, I wish it could be more specific.”

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Could managed care offset OK’s surge in Medicaid spending for emergency room visits?

Oklahoma  |  April 24, 2014

By Patrick B. McGuigan | Oklahoma Watchdog
OKLAHOMA CITY — Medicaid-financed emergency room costs statewide grew nearly $10 million to $178.3 million in fiscal year 2013.
The increase, from $169.6 million in 2012, came as SoonerCare, the state Medicaid system, expanded to cover for the first time ever more than a quarter of the state’s 3.8 million people.
Emergency [...]

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Glenn Beck discusses Watchdog.org’s EMP readiness story

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Read the story here: Civilians not ready for EMP-caused blackout

EdSchultz

Is the mainstream media being unfair to Obamacare?

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By Adam Tobias | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON, Wis. — Need a good laugh?
Check out what MSNBC host Ed Schultz had to say Monday about the mainstream media’s handling of Obamacare.
Trust me, you’ll want to sit down for this one.

Contrary to Schultz’s claims, a major Gallup survey released Monday indicates that sign-ups through the Affordable Care Act are [...]

WATCHBLOG

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – State Delegate Barbara Comstock is inflating her energy record to pump up her congressional bid.
The McLean Republican’s congressional campaign webpage declares that she “authored Virginia’s law to allow for offshore exploration of energy.”
In fact, Comstock’s “major legislation” did no such thing. Her 2010 bill, HB 900, [...]

Comstock goes overboard with offshore energy claim

 |  Texas

While taxpayers were picking up the tab for intensive, outpatient care for mentally ill patients, those patients were playing games and watching movies.

Medicare fraud: $97 million for mentally ill patients to watch movies, play games

By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org
State public utilities regulators are calling for an easy way for consumers to compare complaints against the nation’s phone companies.
Currently, consumers can file complaints about their telecommunications service with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, but those complaints aren’t publicly available in an online format for consumers.
On Wednesday, Chris [...]

Regulators push for public database of complaints against phone companies

 |  Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has saved almost $2 billion staving off welfare fraud, waste and abuse under Gov. Tom Corbett, said Beverly Mackereth, the secretary of the state’s Department of Public Welfare.

DPW chief: PA saves billions fighting welfare fraud

 |  Montana

By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
For some, ignorance is bliss, but for Democrat Jon Tester, it’s an important campaign tactic.
Sure, the second-term senator from Montana isn’t up for re-election until 2018, but that won’t stop him from using disingenuous attacks on the wealthy to scare his constituents into sending him campaign cash.
“Today, it looks like the billionaire Koch [...]

Tester launches disingenuous attack on the Koch brothers

 |  Pennsylvania

With no debate and a nearly party-line vote, the state House passed a bill that eliminates a loophole in the law state defining the crime of stalking.

PA House approves ‘stalking’ bill

Section 7

FROM AROUND THE WEB

By Wayne Lusvardi | Cal Watchdog
In his novel “The Sun Also Rises,” California novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote, “How do you go bankrupt? Two ways: Gradually, then suddenly.”
Case in point: the City of San Bernardino, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The pace of municipal bankruptcy there has been slow because in 2013 the city resumed making its pension fund payments [...]

San Bernardino bankruptcy shows how pensions crowd out services

By Nic Horton | The Arkansas Project
Earlier this week, the state’s Department of Human Services released the latest enrollment numbers in the Medicaid “private” option expansion. So far, enrollments are way above forecasts: according to DHS, PO enrollment has now reached 155,567.
Many supporters of the “private” option no doubt see this surge in enrollment as a good thing. After all, [...]

Three cheers — for more government dependency?

By Glen Morgan
Last Thursday, members of the Washington State Senate convened in Sumner to discuss the damaging effects of the Shoreline Management Act on property rights.  We referenced this hearing here. Of particular interest in this discussion was the role the Department of Ecology plays in the SMP update process.
Fortunately, for all those unable to attend, you can see the complete TVW coverage of this hearing here, [...]

WA senators hold hearing exposing Department of Ecology abuse

By Jarrett Skorup | Michigan Capitol Confidential
LANSING — There are an estimated $730 billion to $4 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities across the states. These costs are crowding out services, harming communities, and causing public employees to worry that governments cannot keep their promises.
It’s time to do something about that before it gets too late, [...]

How Michigan can fix its pension problems

By Tom Gantert | Michigan Capitol Confidential
A 2013 study by Stanford University found that Detroit students in charter public schools were performing far beyond those in the Detroit Public Schools district. The study is the most comprehensive yet done, individually tracking students and holding for race, poverty level, English language learner, special education status and more.
Although many [...]

MI gubernatorial candidate wants to dismantle charter schools

By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf | Maryland Reporter
Nassrine Moasser, 22, took a full-time job waiting tables at Columbia’s Stanford Grill after her graduation from Towson University a year ago.
She said she’s familiar with the recent move by lawmakers to boost Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10, but was glad that the Legislature pegged the base pay for tipped [...]

Some servers, restaurants glad to be left out of MD minimum wage bill

By James Poulos | Cal Watchdog
For critics of police misconduct looking for an easy fix, one solution towers above the rest: affix video cameras to cops. The idea is picking up steam in California, where top officials are showing increased interest.
Yet this also is a time when concerns about data harvesting and government surveillance are [...]

Momentum grows for police body cameras

By Nic Horton | The Arkansas Project
Mason Brannon of Paragould was arrested on March 1st for carrying a firearm without a concealed carry permit. Brannon’s arrest, and his pending prosecution, could serve as the first “test case” of Act 746, which became law last year.
However, the trial won’t be a walk in the park for Prosecutor Scott Ellington — because [...]

Arrest could trigger test case for new Arkansas concealed carry law

By Chris Reed | Cal Watchdog
Last week’s decision from a state appeals court to issue a summary judgment denying the Brown administration’s unusual request to block a second trial in which Kings County and other plaintiffs challenge California’s high-speed rail project bodes terribly for the governor’s overall legal strategy.
That strategy builds on the novel theory that the [...]

Gov. Brown’s strategy to prop up CA bullet train falters