SAN ANTONIO – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been asked by Texas Sen. Jeff Wentworth to weigh in on the use of Advanced Transportation District funding to pay for a street car system in downtown San Antonio.
“Government needs to keep faith with the voters. Deliver what they promised and not pull a bait and switch,” Wentworth said.
He said voters were told during the 2004 election that led to the creation of the ATD that light rail would not be included.
Supporters of the project have maintained street cars are not light rail.
“If you want trolleys, go to Disneyland,” said George Rodriguez, president of the San Antonio Tea Party.
Rodriguez said he began raising the issue believing the free market, not subsidies, should pay for downtown redevelopment.
“This is not an organization throwing a tantrum, saying, No, no, no,” Rodriguez said. “This is a violation of the public trust.”
However, Henry Munoz, VIA board chairman, said the funding of street cars falls under the category of “other advanced transportation purposes.”
“Expenditures should be an appropriate mix of high school construction and multi-modal funding and that’s what we’re attempting to do,” Munoz said.
Opponents said they also are concerned the ATD funds will be tied up for ten years and not used for highway road construction as originally intended.
In a statement, VIA outlined four county road construction projects that totaled $101.85 million that used ATD dollars to supplement state and federal funding.
Wentworth said the Attorney General’s opinion may take up to six months after rigorous review of the issue from all sides.
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Fabrar Liberia is a fully incorporated Liberian owned and run agriculture holding firm created in 2009 to tackle food insecurity in Liberia by improving the livelihoods of farmers and providing them with increased access to domestic and international food markets. Through private equity and equity financing from West Africa Venture Fund, Fabrar Liberia secured funding worth $500,000 USD in 2013 to expand the milling site in Kakata to a capacity of 30 MT of rice per day. To reach full capacity, Fabrar has a strategy to expand and nurture its network of paddy-rice suppliers. This all-encompassing approach to serving the rice market in Liberia is designed to create prosperous Liberian food producers and smallholder farmers that, together, can meet the consumers demand for quality rice.
A timeline for the State College High School renovation project is taking shape, with the design team reviewing a planned calendar with the school board Monday night.
Ed Poprik, director of physical plant for the district, says since voters approved the referendum that secured funding for the $115 million project, designers have been busily working — formally starting the land development process, surveying and documenting existing conditions, and reviewing grant applications for additional project funding.
A design calendar can be reviewed HERE.
Design is expected to be complete by mid-2015, with drawings made available to the public through the process; specifically in October, January and April.
The board will first review a preliminary design Oct. 13. High school staff and students will review the plan the week of Oct. 20. There will be a public forum the week of Oct. 27. Tentatively, a board work session is slated for Nov. 3.
Construction is expected to begin next summer and take roughly 30 months.
A construction management team will be on the high school campus for the duration of the project. In total, the team, which includes Poprik, has 137 years of experience working in the district.
I am very ecstatic to be able to put this kind of team forward at this point in time to be able to manage this kind of project, says Poprik.
Officials have described the two-building campus as unsafe. Students must cross two bus lanes and Westerly Parkway to get to different classes throughout the day. There are 93 doorways where students constantly go in and out that are not continually monitored.
In May, voters overwhelmingly supported the project at State High. The total project cost is estimated at $115 million with a 5.3 percent interest rate and a term of 30 years. The $30 million balance will be funded through the appropriation of a current tax.
Under the approved referendum, the resulting 7.2 percent tax increase will be determined based on a propertys assessed value. The district calculated the percentage tax increase based on the 2013-2014 property tax rate of 38.75 mills, or $38.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.
In other news, Thomas McKee, insurance broker with The Hartman Group, reviewed potential insurance coverage for the district related to data breaches, network security and network extortion. The insurance can also cover civil liability.
McKee says data breaches and the release of sensitive information is a very fluid topic right now … with criminals finding new ways to access information and insurance companies are scrambling to keep up with them, quite honestly.
If there is a breach, and information, such as grades, student medical information or employee information, is released, an agency must notify potential victims within a reasonable amount of time or face civil liability, says McKee.
McKee estimates the annual premium for such coverage, including $1 million in liability for various breach issues, to be roughly $13,500.
Currently, the district does not have insurance coverage for its data housed within the district or equipment that leaves the district, such as laptops and other devices, says Randy Brown, the districts business administrator.
Brown asked the board to consider the coverage. The board may vote on the matter at a future public meeting.
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SimplyBiz Mortgages has selected existing panel member The Loans Engine as its preferred provider to offer advisers an unsecured lending facility for the first time, citing an increase in demand from members for alternative sources of finance for clients.
Members can now use unsecured loans for clients wishing to improve their credit score, make home renovations, buy a car or manage their bills. Ranging from pound;1,000 to pound;25,000, approved customers can have access to the funds within 24 hours of their broker submitting an application to The Loans Engine.
Martin Reynolds, chief executive of SimplyBiz Mortgages, said the proposition should encourage more advisers to explore opportunities that exist within specialist markets.
He said: To offer an unsecured proposition is a natural step from the launch of our secured panel last year. Advisers have to consider all options when they are looking at finance, so we felt it was important to offer the correct choices on our panel.
Tom Garratt, head of intermediary channel at The Loans Engine, explained that the partnership began in April last year when the firm was selected for its secured loan offering.
He said: The FCA now advises that all financial products should be explored and considered.
We are committed to helping SimplyBiz Mortgage members find and deliver the most relevant solution for their clients while at the same time, ensuring client retention and generating further income opportunities for themselves.
A group of talented individuals have been showing off their skills at a showcase event after taking part in weekly arts and crafts projects.
The Bernicia residents took part in the exhibition at the housing firm’s head office in Ashington, where guests including employees and volunteers from Newcastle-based company ID, came to see their efforts.
Photography was displayed along with some pieces of pottery produced and there was also the chance to demonstrate their skills by having a go on the pottery wheel.
Creative Arts has secured funding from the Big Lottery to deliver more of the sessions.
Ally Walker 86, a resident from the scheme in Ashington, said: “When this was all first suggested to us, we all said ‘no way’, but it has been absolutely fantastic.
“I never thought at 86 I would be trying to do anything new like this.
“I had never even heard of silk painting but the painting was great and I was amazed I could do it. The tutors from Creative Arts have all been fantastic.”
The work is now displayed at Newbiggin Maritime Centre in Newbiggin until the end of August.
Visit www.newbigginmaritimecentre.org.uk for details.
Survival-horror game DayZ continually produces stories of camaraderie, betrayal, alliances, wars, and the struggle to live in a post-apocalyptic world. The narratives that arise simply from player interactions are so varied and intense, in fact, that Manhattan College has taken notice and secured funding from the National Science Foundation to conduct a study into player behavior in the game.
This week, a Manhattan College professor published a survey seeking information from DayZ players about their habits and experiences while playing the game. The study is funded by the NSF, which provides support for and leads studies in several different scientific areas. The information collected from this survey will help complete a larger, overarching study about the nature of online gaming. It is being led by Manhattan College professor of religious studies Robert Geraci.
This survey is a part of research funded by the National Science Foundation to understand motivations for and outcomes from online game play, the surveys description states. In particular, this survey inquires into player experiences in the survival horror game, DayZ.
Some of the questions inquire into personal reactions to playing the game, focusing on the psychological and sociological results of a high-stress game like DayZ. For example, the survey asks questions starting with, When hunted by infected in DayZ, how frightened are you? and ending with, How does attacking other players affect your behavior in the real world?
DayZ is currently in early access on PC, and developer Bohemia Interactive is continuing to implement significant changes. If you play DayZ, how do you react to in-game events? Let us know in the comments.
A product called Gatoresin could soon revolutionize our use of disposable plastic containers. The Gainesville Sun reported last week that a Florida-based company called US Bioplastics has licensed a University of Florida technology that produces water-degradable plastic from biomass such as corn stover, sugarcane bagasse and lignin from the paper industry. Sun reporter Anthony Clark explained that the plastic breaks down in water, unlike oil-based plastic, and is designed to replace PET — or polyethylene terephthalate — the plastic used in most single-serve beverage bottles.
Furthermore, US Bioplastics has secured funding from the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research that could expedite this breakthrough to widespread market use.
The Florida Institute is a is a nonprofit organization formed by the Legislature in 2007, that works collaboratively with the technology licensing and commercialization offices of Floridas state universities and private research institutions to leverage a $2 billion research base and form investable companies that create clean jobs in new industries that are driving the global economy.
In other words, this is how public money and public research at public universities can dramatically alter private-sector economics. It goes without saying that this is hardly the first UF invention to do that. Gatorade anyone?
And while Gatoresin is not yet as widespread as the thirst-quenching sports drink, it may soon be the stuff from which Gatorade bottles are made. According to the Sun, it all started in the laboratory of UF chemistry professor Stephen Miller.
So why is Gatoresin a big deal? As noted by the Florida Institutes website, In 2010, 300 million tons of plastic were produced worldwide. One third of all plastics are utilized in disposable packaging like bottles and bags, with nearly 4 percent of the worlds oil production used as raw material to make plastic, and almost the same amount consumed to make the end product.
If 100 million tons of plastic per year can be made water-degradable, thats a huge burden lifted off the environment.
This is why Floridas public universities matter. They are not simply degree factories, turning tassels and printing diplomas. In a very concrete way, they are drivers of progress, change and profit far beyond the realms of academia and higher education. Theres a real return on taxpayer dollars invested in these schools.
Los Angeles-based venture capital firm Bam Ventures is seeking $10 million for Bam Ventures Partners, according to a regulatory filing.
Bam Ventures is focused on early stage venture investments with a particular focus on Los Angeles and Southern California based companies.
The entrepreneur-focused firm, which is described on its website as entrepreneurs investing in entrepreneurs, was co-founded by Brian Lee and Richard Jun.
Lee is a serial angel investor and the co-founder of Legalzoom, Shoedazzle and The Honest Company. Lee secured funding from firms such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Polaris Ventures for Shoedazzle which he founded in 2009 with Kim Kardashian, Robert Shapiro and MJ Eng in 2009.
Managing director Jun previously served on Shoedazzle’s senior management team as its general counsel and helped orchestrate the merger of the company with JustFab at the end of 2013.