May 31, 2014
All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries LLC (FECI), is planning on running a high speed train service between Miami and Orlando. The plan is for the trains to ferry passengers through Brevard County 32 times a day without stopping.
Upgrade to the rail lines themselves would offer a short term economic impact of jobs but as the trains would not stop in Brevard, it is estimated that there is little long term economic impact.
There are safety and noise concerns from people within the county.
There are major concerns with the cost of upgraded rail crossings which the county would be forced to maintain on the taxpayer dime.
County Attorney Scott Knox estimates that the cost for the crossing maintenance that Brevard County would be responsible for may rise to $1 million a year indefinitely. That compares with maintenance costs that have ranged between $220,000 and $450,000 a year in recent years.
All Aboard Florida, a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, has said it would pay for track and crossing improvements for the new rail service it hopes to begin in 2016. But, as it is now, the counties and cities along the route would be responsible for maintaining the crossings after service begins.
In an April 27, 2014 article for Florida Today, columnist and editor Matt Reed writes:
This train has left the station.
Within two years, a new privately owned passenger train system will zoom 32 times a day through Brevard County railroad crossings, sounding horns in neighborhoods. Its owners aren’t waiting for voters or armchair economists to bless their venture.
The company, All Aboard Florida, appears all but ready to run trains from Miami to a switch in Cocoa, where new lines will reach west to Orlando International Airport. It already has land and capital for three deluxe stations near commuter rail and bus lines in South Florida.
Its 125-mph trains won’t stop in Brevard.
It doesn’t need your tax money. (emphasis ours)
We believe that depends on the meaning of “your tax money.”
May 31, 2014
From Florida Today:
Staff doing an inventory of surplus military rifles at the Melbourne Police Department armory earlier this year came up one short: An M16 assault rifle was missing.
The weapon is one out of 65 the department has on hand.
Police searched patrol cars, the department and the area where the rifle was supposed to be stored, but did not find the weapon. They put the gun’s serial number into federal databases that might tip them off to its location, but did not find the weapon.
So, they had to file a missing property report with the federal Law Enforcement Support Office.
Yet the news gets even worse. A commenter on the article notes a noise suppressor for a .223 caliber rifle and a set of night vision goggles are also missing.
This means that the police, who remind citizens all the time about the dangers of firearms and the safe storage of firearms were so irresponsible that a weapon in their care has disappeared. You would think that if the M16 grew legs and walked out of the building under its own power, someone would have noticed that strange sight, but maybe not.
The police department launched an investigation to find out where the Colt M16 went, how it got there, and if any inventory procedures could be improved to prevent this from happening again.
We want to review the idea of “inventory procedures could be improved.”
May 30, 2014
Seldom has it been harder to wrap our head around an issue than with the issues going on at the Veterans Administration and the VA hospitals across the country.
According to an interim report issued Wednesday afternoon by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General, up to 40 veterans died at the Phoenix VA hospital due to wait times for appointments and care. The report was issued as the Inspector General continues to investigate at least 26 other hospitals for the same issues. That list of hospitals seems to be growing daily. What makes the deaths in Phoenix even more tragic and for which people need to be held criminally responsible is that the schedulers were falsifying records to make it appear the hospital was meeting scheduling and wait time goals – goals which enabled them to get performance bonuses.
It was almost as if the schedulers and the hospital administrators were saying “nothing to see here….. move on….. oh, and can we get our performance bonuses?”
The timing of the release of the report was unfortunate for three people – Dr. Thomas Lynch, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Health for Clinical Operations and Management, Joan Mooney, Veterans Affairs Department, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, and Michael Huff, Veterans Affairs Department, Congressional Affairs Officer – who were called to appear at a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday night.
To say the least, the Congressmen and women laid down a withering fire of questions. Much of the time, those questions were met with “I don’t know,” “we will get back to you,” or “we can’t say because the VA legal counsel is looking into it.”
Two rounds of comments and questions from members of the Committee epitomized the bloodletting that occurred:
As with most hearings in Congress there was grandstanding. Even Representative Walorski’s question of “does the buck stop with you?” is effective and great television, but shouldn’t that question be asked of each member of the Committee themselves? The quality of care at VA hospitals has been going on for years. Doesn’t the Congress have to accept some responsibility for this failure? Or are they only willing to take “credit” for fixing the problem or appearing to be concerned?
May 29, 2014
Carol Costello anchors the 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. (ET) edition of CNN Newsroom each weekday. She is based in the network’s world headquarters in Atlanta. Costello previously contributed to The Situation Room and anchored CNN Daybreak, the network’s former early morning news program.
Costello has interviewed four former U.S. presidents, President Jimmy Carter, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President Bill Clinton and has covered four presidential inaugurations.
Costello was a part of CNN’s Peabody Award winning coverage of the Gulf Oil Spill, the 2008 presidential election and Hurricane Katrina. During her time with CNN, she has also reported on the last Space Shuttle launch, the Ohio midterm elections, the shooting at Virginia Tech, the tsunami disaster in South Asia, the Russian school hostage crisis and Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
Costello’s work has been honored numerous times, including a 1991 Emmy Award for a special on crack and cocaine, a UPI award, several Associated Press awards and an Emmy nomination in 1993.
Costello joined CNN in October 2001 from WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., where she’d worked five years as an anchor and investigative reporter. Before that, she spent three years at WBAL-TV in Baltimore as an anchor and co-anchor. She began her career as a weekend anchor and reporter for WAKR-TV in Akron, Ohio, then moved to WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio, to work as the station’s principal weeknight anchor.
Costello earned a degree in journalism from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
With all that experience, awards and a college degree, did Costello really think that the First Lady of the United States – the President’s wife – signs bills into law?
We are often forgiving of people who, when speaking extemporaneously screw something up. It is easy to do. Yet this seems to be read from a tele-prompter which makes things worse as someone would not only have had to write it, but approve the script.
We want to be helpful to the people at CNN that missed this.
May 29, 2014
Imagine in the very near future technology allowing humans to bridge geographic and language boundaries to connect mind to mind and heart to heart in ways never before possible.
For more than a decade, Skype has brought people together to make progress on what matters to them. Today, we have more than 300 million connected users each month, and more than 2 billion minutes of conversation a day as Skype breaks down communications barriers by delivering voice and video across a number of devices, from PCs and tablets, to smartphones and TVs. But language barriers have been a blocker to productivity and human connection; Skype Translator helps us overcome this barrier.
May 29, 2014
Spokane County, Washington Sheriff Deputy Scott Kenoyer was a cop, then wasn’t a cop, and now is a cop again.
Kenoyer was involved with a woman who, interestingly enough, had been involved with another officer, Spokane Police officer Jeff Graves. Graves was accused of stalking the woman. An internal affairs investigation discovered that Graves and the woman had exchanged four thousand text messages over a two week span. (That’s a text message every 5 minutes over the course of 14 days.) Graves eventually resigned after he was cleared by the department of stalking as it was discovered the woman had sent three thousand of the texts herself.
In the course of the Graves’ investigation, department officials learned the woman and Deputy Kenoyer had sex at the woman’s apartment while Kenoyer was on duty. When confronted, Kenoyer admitted the liaison saying the encounter lasted only nine minutes.
Amusingly enough, Kenoyer logged the time as “citizen contact.” We haven’t heard sex called that before, but we are always discovering new things.
Spokane County Sheriff Knezovich met with Deputy Kenoyer on Thursday [August 15, 2013] and representatives from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. Knezovich offered Deputy Kenoyer a Last Chance Agreement. The agreement stated that Kenoyer would be reinstated into the SCSO under strict and specific conditions.
The Deputy Sheriff’s Association and Kenoyer refused to sign the last chance agreement. Kenoyer rejected that deal saying he felt the punishment was already too severe for the offense.
With little recourse, Sheriff Knezovich fired Kenoyer.
SCSO said Kenoyer was not placed on administrative leave during this investigation. He was already on medical leave. KREM 2 also learned the woman in this case was not cooperative during the investigation into Kenoyer. Knezovich said he had no other option but to terminate Deputy Kenoyer without an agreement.
In November, 2013, Kenoyer applied for arbitration to be returned to duty.
May 28, 2014
We’ve been fans of the computer company NewEgg for as long as we can remember. (Hence the “old school” reflection graphic to the left.) NewEgg has great prices, and even better customer service. Even though things don’t always go well in any situation with computers and ordering online, NewEgg seeks to make things right and take care of their customer.
Outside of selling computer gear and other items through the “NewEgg Marketplace,” NewEgg is on the forefront of fighting another battle – that against patent trolls.
If you don’t know what a patent troll is, NewEgg’s chief counsel Lee Cheng explains:
A patent troll is anyone who asserts patents abusively — i.e. poor quality patents or patents that technically pass muster but don’t add value to society. They take advantage of the fact that legal defense costs are much higher than their settlement demands to extort billions a year from honest businesses.
For example, NewEgg and other companies were sued by someone claiming to hold a patent on the image of a grocery shopping cart when used as an icon in online ordering. If that sounds absurd to you, it is. After all, how crazy is it that an online store can be sued for having a picture of a shopping cart where items waiting to be be purchased are stored as in a real life brick and mortar store?
Often times these patent trolls will sue smaller companies who cannot afford the costs of litigation. The object is not to protect the patent, but to gain money from extorting the company of a settlement fee. Once in awhile the trolls will take on a big company with almost unlimited legal defense funds. One such company is NewEgg.
May 27, 2014
Last September, Toni Christina Jenkins, a waitress at Red Lobster in Franklin, Tennessee, posted on her Facebook page a picture of a receipt she claims was left by a customer.
The image, seen below, shows a receipt from a man named Devin Barnes who left no tip on what he says was a take out order.
However, in what is pixelated on the image, someone had written the term “nigger.”
“This is what I got as a tip last night … so happy to live in the proud southern states … God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee,” Jenkins wrote on her Facebook page at the time.
(Note: we here at Raised on Hoecakes do not use that term and find it offensive but we want to make sure people understand what was said rather than referring to the term as “the n-word.”)
Jenkins’ Facebook post garnered national attention. Major news outlets covered the story which resulted in a fund being started for Jenkins called “Tips for Toni.” Over $10,000 in donations were made and eventually given to Jenkins who used the money to purchase a car and donate to her church.
Lost in this was Devin Barnes – the 20 year old whose signature appears on the receipt.
Barnes denied ever writing the racist comment on the receipt. His repeated denials did not stop the death threats made against him because of Jenkins’ accusations.
Barnes is now suing both Jenkins and Red Lobster for one million dollars.
In an odd twist, this is not a case of “she said / he said.” Right after Jenkins posted the image, Barnes hired a handwriting expert.
Thomas Vastrick, a forensic document examiner with offices in Memphis and Orlando, Fla., said in his report that
“no significant handwriting characteristics similarities” werefound between the questioned “total” entry line and the handwriting samples provided by Barnes and his wife.