Tag: open

Lake George board, superintendent violated open meeting law, judge rules

LAKE GEORGE – A ruling from a state Supreme Court justice determined the central school district’s superintendent and board of education violated an open meetings law, but did not give Lake George United for Education what they wanted — their assistant principal back.

Justice Thomas Nolan’s Sept. 30 decision concluded that the breach of the open meetings law doesn’t void or reverse the board’s March 2018 resolution to remove Assistant Principal Cody Conley in favor of hiring a curriculum coordinator.

“The topic that was discussed was one permitted to be discussed in executive session,” Nolan wrote in his decision. “This does not evince, in this court’s judgment, either conscious or malicious or deliberate effort by the Board to violate the law or that the Board has engaged in a documented, persistent pattern of such violations.”

The decision, as first reported by the Post-Star of Glens Falls, the judge declined to award legal fees to LGUE, a community group that filed the Article 78 lawsuit against the school board and Superintendent Lynne Rutnik.

The decision did not satisfy Patricia Dow, the lead petitioner on the LGUE lawsuit.


“While LGUE is disappointed that the Supreme Court was unwilling to impose any consequences on the superintendent and board of education for depriving the public of its statutory right to observed the regular business of the board, we are grateful that the court agreed that the law was violated,” Dow said in a written statement.

Dow said that the board and superintendent misled the public when they announced their executive session was held to discuss an employee’s history, not a position elimination and Nolan agreed.

However, in her statement, Dow also said that the superintendent didn’t consult the district’s professional staff  before deciding to eliminate Conley’s position, showing the superintendent was “unwilling to collaborate with district professionals on how best to deliver critically needed services to our students.”

Rutnik has said the reason for not consulting staff was because the decision “was too difficult to make with a great deal of objectivity.”

Even though Dow didn’t get everything that the suit was meant to achieve, LGUE has won over voters. All of the 2018 board member are gone. One of the last, Tom Seguljic, lost his bid for re-election this year.

The board is now packed with members of LGUE including Jeannine Beiber, who husband was a petitioner on the suit against the district, and Melissa Seale who was an original petitioner. (She dropped her name from the suit at some point.) Also on the board from LGUE are President Tricia Connor Biles, Katie Bruenig, Maryanne MacKenzie and Rosemarie Earl. The only person on the board who is independent of LGUE is Lin King whose term ends in 2022.

Rutnik did not return a Times Union phone call to discuss how the LGUE-led board could affect her employment with the district when her contract expires 2024. She did release a statement, however.

“This decision presents an opportunity for the LGCSD board of education and

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Open Society to Increase Commitment to Global COVID-19 Response – World

NEW YORK—As COVID-19 continues to devastate communities around the world, the Open Society Foundations today announced $70 million in global investments, focused on providing immediate relief for vulnerable communities and pushing back against government encroachment on political freedoms.

The new commitment supports work by an array of local partners in Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa. This follows on an initial emergency funding package of $130 million announced in April, bringing the total Open Society investment to combat COVID-19 around the world to $200 million.

Open Society’s funding will include support to organizations helping those hit hardest by the pandemic, including refugees, domestic and care workers, and others left behind by inadequate government responses. The support will also strengthen humanitarian responses in countries from El Salvador to Myanmar, support credible reporting on the crisis by independent media in local languages, and promote access to accurate information about public health and community safety.

“COVID-19 continues to ravage countries around the world, hitting hardest in communities with the least resources as a result of prolonged and entrenched inequities,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Society Foundations. “Too often, governments are slow to act in this pandemic, to protect those who need it most, and this pattern of inaction is longstanding. We see the terrible toll this virus has taken and are redoubling our efforts to help the global community adapt, and to seize this moment for change.”

The regional funding plans reflect an intensive ground-up effort by Open Society’s local national and regional foundations to identify priority goals, recognizing that in addition to the health care crisis, oppressive lockdown measures and economic shutdowns are causing as much hardship as the virus itself. The plans also reflect a response to the way that the pandemic is highlighting and aggravating preexisting racial, gender, and socioeconomic inequalities across the globe.

Both Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, have become centers of the pandemic, with numbers rising in several countries. Open Society’s regional strategy focuses on countering populist narratives and authoritarian power grabs in Brazil and El Salvador, as well as addressing the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on populations already experiencing structural inequalities, such as women, people of African descent, residents of favelas and peripheral communities, and indigenous peoples.

In Asia, meanwhile, much of Open Society’s support will strengthen informal worker organizing to demand protection now and into the future. Using a multi-country approach, Open Society will advance workers’ collective influence on global supply chains and in sectors that rely on large numbers of informal and migrant labor, such as domestic workers and those in the hospitality, construction, and garment industries.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, Open Society will support urgent humanitarian relief and advocacy for access to critical services for refugees; internally displaced persons; and migrants in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. Open Society will also contribute to longer-term work on conflict accountability, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the protection

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India open to launching own app store as start-ups criticise Google – government source

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is open to launching its own mobile app store or expanding an existing one if it receives enough demand from domestic firms for an alternative to Apple AAPL.O and Google platforms, a senior government official said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

The country has some 500 million smartphone users, most of whom use Google’s Android platform, but Indian start-ups have criticised the company for policies they say stifle their growth.

SoftBank-backed 9984.T Paytm, one of India’s leading payments firms, protested against the U.S. tech giant’s decision to remove its app for a few hours last month citing violations of gambling policies.

Alphabet-owned GOOGL.O Google also said this week that it will strictly enforce a policy which will levy a 30% commission on payments made within apps on its Android store.

In response to an earlier media report, a senior Indian official told Reuters New Delhi hasn’t received any formal request but was willing to consider developing a mobile platform where apps could be downloaded.

“Before we open one we need to know there will be takers for it,” said the government official, declining to be named as he is not authorised to speak with media.

India already runs a mobile app store that lists over 1200 mainly government-backed applications, but also Paytm, and the government could also consider expanding that instead of starting from scratch, the official added.

India’s technology ministry, Google and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Google has previously said that fewer than 3% of developers with apps on its Play store sold digital goods over the last 12 months, and nearly 97% comply with its payment system policy.

Nonetheless, several Indian start-up founders are calling for a local app store that doesn’t charge a high service fee.

“It’s absolutely necessary to have a local app store,” said Vishal Gondal, co-founder of Bengaluru-based gaming firm nCore Games.

“If we have to give 30% fees to Google and also pay for customer acquisition, how will our budding businesses survive?”

Paytm disagreed with Google’s assessment but removed certain promotions to have its app reinstated. The company’s founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has said in interviews that Google was acting as “judge, jury and executioner”.

Without referring to Paytm by name, Google later said its policies were aimed at protecting users from potential harm and were applied and enforced on all developers consistently.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal in New Delhi; Editing by Aditya Kalra, Kirsten Donovan

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Open Society University Network, Cofounded by Bard College, Has Been Elected Cochair of UN Refugee Education Taskforce

Blended learning course for refugees, Jordan 2019.

The Open Society University Network (OSUN)—led by Bard College and Central European University with support from the Open Society Foundations—has been elected as cochair of the Taskforce on Third Country Education Pathways, launched by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

OSUN will cochair the taskforce with The World University Service of Canada, leading representatives from the Japan ICU Foundation, the Government of Portugal, Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, the Government of Canada, Unione delle Università del Mediterraneo, and the Institute of International Education, among others.

Dr. Rebecca Granato, associate vice president for global initiatives& at Bard College, will represent the Open Society University Network on UNHCR's& Taskforce on Third Country Education Pathways.

Dr. Rebecca Granato, associate vice president for global initiatives at Bard College.

The task force is charged with developing best practices for higher education pathways that respond to the needs of refugees, internally displaced individuals, and others displaced by crises, as well as leading the development of advocacy strategies to ensure access and the establishment of minimum standards for institutions seeking to host students.

Dr. Rebecca Granato, associate vice president for global initiatives at Bard College, will represent OSUN. “I look forward to this work as part of our wider mission to develop the OSUN Microcolleges for Connected Learning Initiatives for displaced and host-community learners.”

Learn more about the work of the taskforce in the UNHCR Doubling Our Impact Report.

Post Date: 09-30-2020

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U.S. government tried to “intimidate” California county health department to keep poultry plant open after COVID deaths, director says

There have reportedly been tens of thousands of coronavirus cases at meat and poultry plants. More than 44,000 workers nationwide have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200 have died, according to the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an investigative nonprofit.

In late April, President Trump issued an executive order urging plants to stay open. Since then, CBS News has only been able to identify a couple of plants that were temporarily closed by government agencies due to COVID-19 outbreaks. One is the Foster Farms poultry plant in California’s Merced County.

Despite what it says was political pressure, the small county’s health department closed down the plant in Livingston for one week due to a COVID-19 outbreak that claimed some workers’ lives. 

One of those workers was Perla Meza’s 61-year-old father Filiberto, who she says worked unloading trucks at Foster Farms for years until he came down with COVID-19. 

“He was in quarantine for three days when everything got worse,” Meza said. 

In August, he went to the hospital and then into a coma for three days, Meza said. He later died.  

Some 2,600 people work at the plant. Merced County public health officials declared an outbreak there in late June, and during a visit, recommended Foster Farms test all of its workers, said department director Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp.

“You need to conduct universal screening of all of your staff. You have way too many staff here to be able to control one factor. You’re being controlled by the factors because you have so many people here,” Nanyonjo-Kemp said. “Don’t let your illness take over your facility.”

The plant said they would listen to the advice, Nanyonjo-Kemp said.

“Unfortunately, that did not materialize,” she told CBS News consumer investigative correspondent Anna Werner.

Only limited testing occurred, she said. In July, two workers died of COVID-19.  

The county continued to monitor the outbreak, and on August 7, Foster Farms provided a list showing the number of workers actively infected and those whose cases they described as “resolved.”

But county health officer Dr. Salvador Sandoval noticed the list contained no deaths, even though county health staff said workers had told them there were more.

So the health department emailed Foster Farms to ask if there were “any known deaths,” and the next week, received a new list. This time, Sandoval said, five names previously listed only as “resolved” were now listed as “deaths.”

The company put the names “in a category that made it difficult for our investigators to tag them as being people who had died,” Sandoval said.

He described what the company did as “misleading.” “I feel it’s wrong,” he said.

The company told CBS News, “There was no intentional effort on the part of Foster Farms to deceive the Merced (County) Public Health Department,” and said, “All issues related to the reporting of data were quickly resolved.”

But late in August, with eight deaths and over 350 confirmed cases, county health officials told Foster Farms the plant would

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Donald Trump signs spending bill to keep the government open until Dec. 11

President Trump signed a stopgap spending bill early Thursday morning to keep the government funded through early December.

The president signed the measure after returning to the White House from a campaign rally in Minnesota. The Senate had overwhelmingly approved the spending bill on an 84-10 vote earlier Wednesday.

Funding was set to lapse at midnight with the start of the new fiscal year, but agencies were not expected to be affected by the timing.

The bill delays partisan disputes over spending until after the presidential election.

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Elmer historical society plans open house

The Greater Elmer Area Historical Society’s monthly open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, will feature a book signing by Ralph H. Thomas, local author of “WWII: 50 Objects That Helped Win the War.” Copies will be available for purchase.

The historical society also will be giving away copies of its most recent historical booklet, which spotlights military history and veterans from Elmer, Pittsgrove and Upper Pittsgrove. In the museum, an exhibit of artifacts relating to local military history will be on display.

The event will be held indoors and outdoors, with masks and social distancing required. No more than 12 people may be in the museum at a time, but a tent will set up outside. Anyone who feels ill or is particularly vulnerable is advised to stay home or call to arrange for curbside pickup.

Located at 117 Broad St. in Elmer, the museum is free and open to the public. In addition to exhibits, the museum includes a research library with historic photographs, books and other items relating to the history of Elmer, Upper Pittsgrove and Pittsgrove .For more information about this program and other upcoming events, please visit the society’s Facebook page, call 609-670-0407 or email greaterelmerareahistory@gmail.com.

Send community news to south@njadvancemedia.com.

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Trump signs spending bill to keep government open until December 11

President Donald Trump early Thursday morning signed a spending bill to keep the government open until December 11, according to a tweet from White House spokesman Judd Deere.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Trump is set to announce the government will send millions of rapid-result Covid-19 tests to states, and urge that they be used in schools. Photographer: Ken Cedeno/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images


© Ken Cedeno/Sipa/Bloomberg/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Trump is set to announce the government will send millions of rapid-result Covid-19 tests to states, and urge that they be used in schools. Photographer: Ken Cedeno/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The President signed the bill upon returning to the White House from campaign stops in Minnesota. Trump did not sign the bill before the midnight deadline to keep the government open, but no federal operations were expected to be affected by the shutdown that lasted less than an hour.

The bill breezed through the Senate on Wednesday after having been approved by the House last week and had been sent for Trump’s signature just after 6 p.m. The President had left the White House for campaign stops about three-and-a-half hours before that vote.

By funding the government only until mid-December, the legislation still sets up the possibility of a funding fight and potential shutdown after the election and just before the start of a new Congress.

Video: Smerconish: Is this what law & order looks like? (CNN)

The continuing resolution, while far short of bipartisan full-year funding bills, is the product of bipartisan negotiation and an agreement between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — one that had initially appeared to fall apart just a few weeks before the deadline.

The deal to avert a shutdown has so far proved to be a rare spot of bipartisan agreement at a time when partisan tensions are running especially high amid a high-stakes battle in the

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