Daily Archives: March 15, 2014

Financial aid for despots

If you like your freedom, you can keep your freedom - maybe

If you like your freedom, you can keep your freedom – maybe

US giving up control of internet to UN opens the way for new taxes and censorship. If there’s anything politicians like more than suppressing objectionable ideas, it’s new sources of revenue to exploit. So of course this is happening.


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Financial aid for prep school


Brunswick boys set off to panhandle

Brunswick boys set off to panhandle

It’s getting harder to come by, even as tuitions hit $50,000 per year and higher. Here are some tips on how to get it.

Parents’ lifestyle matters. In some cases, where parents have contested an award, Mr. Marshall said he has gone so far as to ask them to show him a monthly budget.

“We had a family spend $20,000 on volleyball camp that summer and they applied,” he said, reeling off a list of other summer programs, from trips to France to $18,000 in tennis lessons.

“The family is responsible for paying for tuition, not the school,” he said. “We have to have some confidence the family is doing everything possible to pay for tuition before we step in, because our resources are limited.”

In the more affluent areas, parents sometimes need a reminder of what constitutes need. “You cannot be a member of a country club,” said Molly King, head of Greenwich Academy, a prestigious all-girls school from prekindergarten to 12th grade. “You shouldn’t have a second property, a boat, expensive vacations.”

She added, “While there are people who have suffered reversals, I think they’re surprised how high the threshold is for demonstrated need. They have expensive homes. We’d say you have significant borrowing power against your home.”

Yet Mrs. King said her school had increased its financial aid budget each year since the 2008 recession. It covers 25 percent of students.


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This should be news to no one except, perhaps, Peter Tesei

No-show ground breaking ceremony*

No-show ground breaking ceremony*

Soil remediation at high school now projected to take “longer than hoped”.

But good news: we have clearance to take some of the arsenic away.

Soil remediation at Greenwich High School could take as long as four years instead of two, Public Works officials say, following a state agency’s announcement that it will not approve plans to remove PCBs from the ground in time for work to begin this summer. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is, however, expected to approve plans for arsenic removal on the site’s south side early next week.

“This means instead of a 2-3 year project, we have a 3-4 year project,” Public Works Commissioner Amy Siebert in an email to Greenwich Time.

Construction crews first discovered PCBs and other contaminants in July 2011, shortly after beginning work on the high school’s $44 million musical instruction and auditorium complex. Once the town adopted a remediation plan, a start date of July 2014 was set.

However, technical and regulatory complications will prevent the bulk of the plan from going forward along that timeline, said Peter Hill, supervising environmental analyst with the DEEP remediation division.

While arsenic removal remains slated to go forward this summer, it is only a minor part of the overall remediation effort, with PCBs playing a much larger role. The chemical’s presence is restricted to the southern portion of the high school campus, separate from PCB-affected areas.

Hill said the review of the plan has taken into account a large number of factors — both the pollution conditions and the town’s handling of them — in hopes of ensuring the viability and effectiveness of remediation.

“We evaluate the project document, including the remedial action plan, the investigation, the feasibility study and any other pertinent information [emphasis added] to determine if the investigation is complete and if the remedy is protective of human health,” said Hill. “The goal is to ensure that the school will be safe.”

DEEP analysts aim to approve the remainder of the clean-up plan by this time next year.

“We hope that the outstanding details can be resolved this year so remediation can continue in the summer of 2015,” he said. “We are working with the town and the EPA to work toward this goal.”

Brave faces all around

BET officials said they don’t expect the long-term construction costs of the project to change drastically due to the elongated timeline.

[BET Chairman Michael] Mason said the reallocation of funds would not likely have a significant impact on the town’s proposed $396 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The DPW had projected a $6 million request for remediation in 2015-16, a number now liable to increase.

[E]ven with the hampered progress, officials are optimistic. Some had worried that the DEEP would not approve any part of the remediation plan in time to include adequate funds in this year’s budget, stopping the project in its tracks. Now, any progress is good progress.

“If we can at least get started on the south side, that will help keep things moving,” said Siebert.

“It’s a positive for the town that the project will be proceeding this summer, if only on a reduced level,”said Leslie Tarkington, BET liaison to the MISA building committee.

Brace yourself, Bridget, there’s a shit storm coming, to the tune of a billion or so.

* Not a single one of our town leaders had the balls to show up for the official ground breaking ceremony last year, when construction resumed after a two-year hiatus for the soil remediation to be “completed” – they knew to stay away.

[July 13, 2013] On Monday, a row of hard hats perched atop gleaming shovels lay against a trailer near the construction site, props that would ostensibly be used during a groundbreaking ceremony. But no one claimed them for grinning photo-ops. Instead, Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty ventured out at midday as the sole town official to pay a brief site visit.

All of this is exactly as predicted by the Lovable Whack Job, Bill Efros, and FWIW’s official geologist, Michael Finkbeiner.


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Yet another reason for car dealers to fear Tesla


It ain't Nada for her: Hillary appears  at 2014 National Automobile Dealers Association in Las Vegas, $200,000 speaker's fee

It ain’t Nada for her: Hillary appears at 2014 National Automobile Dealers Association in Las Vegas, $200,000 speaker’s fee

The car’s manufacturer intends to do away with the dealers’ cash cow, “regularly scheduled maintenance”. 

No oil changes.

The first and most striking way Tesla kills the dealer service department cash cow is downloads. As part of its sales pitch, Tesla says you should think of its Model S sedan as “an app on four wheels.” That may sound like vacuous Silicon Valley marketing copy, but the company isn’t just being metaphorical. Software is at the heart of what keeps Teslas running. These internet-connected cars are designed to self-diagnose their problems. The vehicles can also download software fixes or updates — even new features — much like an iPhone when Apple puts out a new version of iOS. When fixes happen over the air, there’s no need for a shop in the first place.

At Tesla’s most recent annual meeting, one shareholder asked founder and CEO Elon Musk about whether challenges to the company from traditional auto dealers hurt the company’s business outlook. Musk argued that consumer desire for a better way of buying and owning cars would win out. He said the traditional franchise model that dominates auto-selling in the U.S. wouldn’t work for Tesla for several reasons, including its reliance on maintenance to make money. “Our philosophy with respect to service is not to make a profit on service,” Musk said. “I think it’s terrible to make a profit on service.”

The shareholders applauded

Tesla shareholders might applaud, but conventional car dealers won’t, and they are, so far, firmly in control of the state legislators who can stop Tesl. Here’s an item from Greenwich Time earlier this week: Penske buys Greenwich BMW dealership. Nothing surprising about that, because Penske already owns the Mercedes dealership, and who wouldn’t want to own a luxury brand in this town? But buried in the story is this, which explains how those legislators, once bought, stay bought.

Despite being a major, publicly traded corporation, Penske Automotive Group participates in association meetings, which often focus on issues at the state and local levels, he said.

“We’re like a chamber of commerce for dealers,” [Association president] Fleming said. “They (Penske) are a good company.”

Good for car dealers and politicians; for consumers, not so much.


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New federal “nutrition” guidelines are about global warming


Breakfast of Weenies

Breakfast of Weenies

There’s a mass hysteria going on down in our capital swamp, and only an election can cure it.

Mark Tappscott: Somewhere hidden deep within Washington, D.C., is a huge magnet that exerts an irresistible force drawing busybodies, know-it-alls and nanny-staters to the nation’s capital.

Otherwise, how to account for a president of the United States who can’t balance America’s budget, but has no qualms at all about telling the rest of us how to spend our money?

Or a federal advisory committee staffed by a bunch of academics, nutritionists and “food systems consultants,” plus a vice-chairman who doesn’t “necessarily advocate” beheading Ronald McDonald?

DGAC committee member Dr. Miriam Nelson, for example, sees vegetarianism as the path to smaller carbon footprints for everybody.

“Eating fewer animals, but choosing those wisely … if we were to get Americans to eat it, would actually have a lower footprint than what we are currently doing,” she told a recent meeting of the panel.

In fact, according to Minnesota-based consultant Kate Clancy, “it would be perilous, I would think, for this committee or anybody else to not be taking climate change into account in any of the deliberations about sustainability.”



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Hasn’t worked so far

Stop,in the name of love-of Gaia or, or, ...

Stop,in the name of love – or Gaia or, or, …

Cooling denier N.C. senator Kay Hagan calls for “action” on global warming.

“We are seeing the very real impact climate change is having on my state and its economy today,” Hagan said. “In the absence of action, this extreme weather is here to stay.”

Hagan’s speech comes as Senate Democrats are looking to make climate change a key issue in the 2014 midterm elections.

This is the same Democrat who in January declined to attend a speech given by Obama in her home state, so it’s understandable that she’d look for some other issue, any issue, to distract voters from the performance of her leader in the White House. Too bad nobody cares about global warming.

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