Category Archives: News

Tolling plans announced for new Louisville bridges

Louisville commuters will face their first experience of tolls in decades starting Dec. 30, the body that oversees the new Ohio River bridges announced on Tuesday.

 

RiverLink, a joint authority set up by the state governments of Kentucky and Indiana, had been waiting for system testing to wrap up before formally announcing the start of tolling. “While system preparations are continuing, we’ve cleared the necessary hurdles to set a start date for tolling,” Indiana transportation official Clint Murphy told WHAS.

 

The long-delayed Ohio River Bridges Project, which was finally started in 2011, involved the construction of two new bridges across the river. Two new bridges, the Abraham Lincoln Bridge – located downtown next to the existing John F. Kennedy Bridge – and the East End Crossing in eastern Jefferson County, were constructed during as part of the project.

 

In order to finance the project, Indiana and Kentucky officials agreed to impose tolls on the Lincoln Bridge, the Kennedy Bridge and the East End Crossing – which is set to open on Dec. 18. The tolls will be collected by a mix of transponders and license plate monitoring.

 

More than 100,000 residents of Louisville and southern Indiana have already requested transponders, which will be scanned when a commuter crosses the bridge and then billed later. For a commuter with a transponder, tolls start at $2 for cars, trucks, and small vans for a one-way trip across the bridge.

 

Without a transponder, tolls will be billed via license plate records and can get steep quickly: an unregistered license plate on a large truck will be told at $15 a trip.

 

Kanye West Visits Donald Trump In New York

The social media celebrity and rapper Kanye West entered Trump Tower on Tuesday. Reporters from many news outlets were there to observe the event in New York City. Their cameras captured him entering the lobby around 9:15. For this occasion, he went without the majority of his entourage. Notably absent was Kim Kardashian, Kanye’s wife. It has been said that the two are having marriage difficulty after she was robbed in Paris, and he suffered a nervous breakdown while on stage at one of his concerts.

 

Kanye headed upstairs to speak with Trump in private. After their time alone together, they emerged downstairs together around 9:55. Trump told reporters that he and Kanye were now buddies, and he felt that Kanye is a good man. He pointed at Kanye while doing so. They had a vibrant discussion about life and each other’s affairs.

 

The reporters then turned their attention to Kanye West and asked them a few questions. He stood with a big smile on his face though he kept his arms folded in an unopen posture. Kanye commented that he wished he could freeze this moment in time by taking a picture of it. From there, the two men parted ways. Trump told Kanye to take care of himself and to visit again soon.

 

Kanye failed to vote in the recent election, but he claims to have been a Trump supporter. He was hospitalized for more than a week not long ago due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. You may read more about Kanye’s meeting with President-Elect Trump here.

 

Chicago Braces for Cold Weather

While residents of Chicago Illinois and other cities in the Midwest are used to cold and snowy winters, a recent news article (http://abc7chicago.com/weather/city-suburbs-digging-out-after-weekend-snow-storm/1651677/) points out that the winter season may be starting earlier than normal.

 

This past weekend, residents of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs spend much of their Saturday and Sunday digging out from a two day winter storm. The early snow storm ended up dropping over 9 inches of snow in some areas of the city. As would be expected, this led to significant traffic issues for many and lead to the cancellation of hundreds of flights into and out of the Chicago airports.

 

While the snowstorm was considered early for many people in the area, those who live in the city know to never expect anything less from the weather. The city is now bracing for the second phase of the early winter storm which will arrive later this week. A new polar vortex is expected to sweep across the United States all week. The storm should end up getting Chicago at some point on Thursday. The city is expecting that temperatures could have highs of 5° or less. This low temperature will likely only last for a couple of days, but could lead to cancellation of school and further flight and travel delays.The temperature should then begin to write back towards normal December weather by the end of the following week.

 

Trump Nominates Exxon Mobil CEO as Secretary of State

President Elect Donald Trump has made plenty of headlines in the weeks following his underdog victory to become the next President of the United States. At 6:43am this morning, Trump announced via Twitter that he will be nominating Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO as his Secretary of State.

 

As one of the world’s largest companies, Tillerson has led Exxon Mobil as chairman and CEO since 2006. Along the way, he has become “friends” with Vladimir Putin, being awarded the “Russian Order of Friendship” by Putin in 2013. He has also nudged elbows with some of the highest ranking leaders in the world throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

 

Despite beginning his career nearly 40 years ago as a simple engineer within Exxon, Tillerson has rose through the ranks throughout his career. Trump tweeted that Tillerson was “one of the great business leaders of the world”.

 

The nomination has already come under heavy scrutiny as you can imagine. Democrats have not only clung to his lack of experience, but also his numerous conflicts of interests as Exxon has numerous oil refineries throughout the Middle East and Russia.

 

Other candidates for Secretary of State, the nation’s fourth highest political office, included former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and General David Petraeus.

 

Tillerson still has a long way to go, but if he can successfully manage to make it through Congressional scrutiny, he will assume office once Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

 

People Want Legal Street Vending in Los Angeles

You have probably bought various items from street vendors at some point in your life. You can find these people selling food, clothing and souvenirs an all of the major American cities. Los Angeles is the one major American city where street vending is illegal. However, that does not stop people from trying to sell things on the street. it is estimated that more that $500 million every year are spent on purchases from illegal street vendors in the city of Los Angeles. There have been many attempts over the years to get a permit system in place so that street vending can become legal in the city. Unfortunately, that has not come to pass.

 

It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 people selling items illegally on the streets of Los Angeles. The vast majority of people who try to make a living in this manner are poor immigrants. It is believed this is the primary reason why many lawmakers have not been interested in moving forward with legislation that would legalize street vending. One of the reasons why the issue of legalizing street vending in Los Angeles has been brought up again recently is the surprise election of Donald Trump. He vowed to deport illegal immigrants who have criminal records. Therefore, there are people who believe that the decriminalization will prevent many immigrants from being deported for a crime that is only a non-violent misdemeanor. It remains to be seen if the push to legalize street vending will have enough support.

 

NYC Spends As Much As $600 a Night per Homeless

New York City has ended up spending as much as $600 per night to provide housing for homeless families in Times Square, city’s prime location. As Daily News report, it is two times more expensive than rooms at Waldorf Astoria.

 

To fight rising homelessness, Mayor de Blasio decided to rely on commercial hotels to keep families off the streets. The total cost for housing these people in luxury hotels costs the city $400,000 each night. In November 2015 city’s Department of Homeless Services was booking slightly over 300 rooms a night, and now it has risen to over 2,000 rooms.

 

Thanks to the taxpayers, now almost 6,000 homeless stay at commercial hotel rooms in Times Square and around the city. The average hotel bill is nearly $200 a night. Some of the rooms are being booked at much higher prices. As reported, 800 rooms cost more than $400 a night, and 30 over $600.

 

While homeless should get help, many taxpayers may not be happy after release of this data. After all, paying several hundred a night is more about providing luxury rather than basic service. This may also indicate that the city is getting a bad deal. Why pay $600 a night when Waldorf Astoria, a symbol of luxury and high living, charges less than $400 for one-bedroom suites?

 

Since November 2015, New York City has spent more than $70 million to book 425,000 hotel rooms. Taxpayers need to start asking questions.

From Fragile To Agile: Spokane Vet Walking Again After Dog Enters His Life

He was a U.S. veteran once classified as “100 percent permanently and totally disabled” by the Navy. Not anymore, because this 70-year-old former submarine man is on the go, thanks to Tucker.

 

Jack Cotter of Spokane, Washington, had suffered numerous injuries during and after his time in the Navy. Some of these included spine fractures, hip replacements, neck fractures, heart attack and more. Life was so challenging for Cotter, that he had to be pushed in a wheelchair to attend his son’s basketball tournament.

 

Today.com reports that Jack Cotter’s life turned completely around after being gifted with an adorable rescue puppy named Tucker. The cute pooch is a wire fox terrier and one that got to walk Cotter, instead of the other way around.

 

At first, Cotter could only walk Tucker a few feet, but the pup would egg him on further, and eventually, the two were taking long walks and attending dog obedience classes. It was there, that a lot of people noticed Tucker’s agility. Soon, the two bonded even further by entering local contests for championship American Kennel Club agility.

 

Little Tucker is now nine-years-old and the No. 1 AKC dog for 2016 in agility for his breed. Cotter is in the best shape of his life and enjoying life once again. The duo perform three practice runs twice a week, racing 150 yards around a course in under 40 seconds.

 

It’s a beautiful story and just goes to show, that dog really is man’s best friend.

 

 

Burying a Highway in Rochester, NY

Many people lament the state of America’s cities. While there are many things that can deteriorate a city, the layout of a highway can perhaps bring about urban blight faster than anything else. The city of Rochester, New York certainly understands this principle. That is why Rochester committed over $23 million to fill in a highway that divided city. Constructed over 60 years ago, the highway was placed inside of a deep trench. The trench allowed commuters to rapidly leave the city and head for the suburbs without having to worry about neighborhood traffic in the city.

 

Placing the highway in a trench did double damage to the city over the course of 60 years. First, it prevented commuters from patronizing businesses in the city during daily commutes from suburban homes. Second, the trench intentionally divided the city in half. The highway and trench created a boundary that made it hard for neighborhoods to connect both socially and economically. Authorities in Rochester hope filling the trench and constructing a new highway through the city will strengthen neighborhoods and bring more businesses and homes into the downtown area.

 

Rochester is already seeing benefits from this ambitious project. For example, real estate located near the roads being built to replace the trench are selling for premium prices. People are eager to own homes, apartments, and businesses near the completed project. Hopefully, the project will be so much of a success other cities around America with rethink their own highways. What do you think?

 

 

 

Wisconsin National Guard Activated By Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin National Guard, activated by Governor Scott Walker, is assisting the Milwaukee Police handle outbreaks of civil unrest over the weekend. The unrest in the Sherman Park section of Milwaukee is in response to a shooting incident involving an armed assailant and a Milwaukee police officer. After meeting with Milwaukee Mayor Thomas Barett, Sheriff David Clarke, Jr. asked the Governor for the National Guard deployment.

Calmness prevailed over the troubled neighborhood Sunday morning, after an evening or arson on businesses, automobiles, and sporadic gunfire. As dawn broke Sunday morning, residents and onlookers roamed around and drove by the intersection of North Sherman Boulevard and West Burleigh Street.

Adding to the crowd of the curious, volunteers arrived to clean up litter and building debris from the civil unrest. Many crossed into cordoned off areas by the police and were then escorted quickly out of the fire damaged service station. They resumed collecting trash throughout the surrounding blocks.

Mark Hale, stopped his vehicle and started picking up trash on his way home from work. He commented, “Instead of being part of the problem, I wanted to be part of the solution, I figured if I started picking up trash, other people might do the same.” A lifelong city resident blames the arson on jobless outsiders. An ardent support of the Milwaukee police department, Hale has four children, three of which are in law enforcement.

Edward Flynn, Chief of the Milwaukee Police Department, identified the armed assailant as Sylville K. Smith, age 23, at a Sunday press conference. The shooting, recorded by an officer’s body camera, shows a gun in Smith’s hand, pointed at the officer.

Chicago Teachers Pension Overpays Some Retirees

The State of Illinois and City of Chicago are both well known to have some level of financial distress. According to a recent news article (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-teacher-pension-payment-error-met-20160815-story.html), part of this issue could be due to mismanagement of funds in the various pension programs that the city and state sponsor.

The Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, which is one of the largest pension programs in the country, has reportedly been overpaying teachers out of the pension program. In recent years, the managers of the fund have reportedly overpaid retired teachers a total of $2.8 million. The overpayment was related to the misinterpretation by fund managers of laws that were enacted in 2012 that changed the way that the vesting dates of some former teachers were calculated.

In total, the school system and pension program believe that about 250 different retired teachers received benefits that they were not supposed to receive. The teachers that received the excess pension proceeds earn between $50,000 and $217,000 from pension income and the average teacher received about $12,000 in excess over the two year period.

At this point it is not yet determined how or when the pension program will be able to recoup the money that they lost. It is assumed that the teachers that received the pension income will be paying the money back over a certain period of time through either a lump sum payment or by received reduced benefits for several years. The issues that resulted in the overpayment have reportedly been fixed and cleared up by all parties involved and the city is also considering putting forth a more detailed plan of how to recoup overpayments should a situation such as this arise again.