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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 83,716

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

From tents to tiny houses, advocates get creative to address Nevada's affordable housing shortage

Amid a global pandemic and an unforgiving job market that's contributing to an impending eviction crisis, and as politicians in Reno and Las Vegas grapple with ways to address homelessness in the long term, individuals and nonprofits are developing creative solutions to address an affordable housing crunch.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordable housing as housing that costs no more than 30 percent of a person or household's income. That’s hard to come by for people in the lowest income brackets.

In Reno, there are only 41 affordable housing units for every 100 renter households earning between 31 and 50 percent of the median income. For every 100 renters making 30 percent or less of the area’s median income, there are only 27 affordable units available, according to an analysis of Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data from 2010-2014.

There were also more than 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in Nevada as of January 2019 — an estimate that officials believe is an undercount.

Read more: https://thenevadaindependent.com/article/advocates-and-nonprofits-work-to-address-nevadas-affordable-housing-shortage

Not an L, not a V, not a Nike swoosh: Nevada's K-shaped recovery

By Katie Gilbertson| Eshaan Vakil

The complex Nevada economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession can be explained by one letter of the alphabet – the letter K. The “K-shaped recovery” describes how white-collar jobs are able to prosper during the COVID-19 pandemic, while blue-collar workers are forced out of the labor market or subjected to unsafe working conditions for minimal compensation. Those on the upper half of a K distribution recover at a much quicker pace than those on the lower half. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sectors on the upper half of the K include technology, retail, and software services; sectors on the lower half include hospitality, travel, and food services.

Anyone familiar with Nevada’s regional economies can see parallels between Nevada’s workforce concentration and the K distribution. In recent years, Northern Nevada has become a satellite Silicon Valley of sorts, bringing a tech presence to the valley. Employees can perform these jobs from home, and market demand for them remains high despite the pandemic. Meanwhile, Southern Nevada is the global epicenter of the leisure and hospitality industry. Employees in this sector are dependent upon face-to-face exchange with customers and have faced significant hardship and uncertainty during the pandemic, while receiving little to no compensation.

A snapshot of the whole state shows Northern Nevada on the upper half of the K distribution and Southern Nevada on the lower half of the distribution.

The data bear out a Nevadan K-shaped recovery, with a drastic chasm in unemployment rates between Reno and Las Vegas. In March, at the beginning of the pandemic, the unemployment rate in Las Vegas was only 1.7 percent above that of Reno, but by April the difference exploded, with unemployment in Las Vegas ballooning to 34.2 percent — a 13.7 percent larger unemployment rate than Reno in the same period. Since June, the difference has stabilized, with Las Vegas unemployment resting about 8 percent higher than that of Reno. These percentages, however, still obscure part of the story. Due to Las Vegas’s much larger population, there are many more people unemployed there. As of October, there were 111,600 more people unemployed than the same point in the prior year; this equates to four in ten workers within the entire hospitality industry being unemployed. Compare this to 15,000 more people unemployed than the same time last year for Reno; roughly the amount of employees at Caesars Palace. The northern half of the state is well on its way to recovery, buttressed by a pre-pandemic investment of two-third’s of state economic development assets in that region, while Southern Nevada struggles to regain its economic footing and restore its economy.

Read more: https://www.nevadacurrent.com/2020/12/23/not-an-l-not-a-v-not-a-nike-swoosh-nevadas-k-shaped-recovery/

Nevada charter schools got millions in PPP loans

As state budget cuts have strained the public education system, Nevada’s publicly financed charter schools have been able to shore up operations with millions of dollars from the federal Paycheck Protection Program designed to help businesses and nonprofits.

Nevada charter schools this year accepted $31 million from the Paycheck Protection Programs. The federal funds, which were not available to school districts, allowed charter schools to weather the uncertainty of the state’s economic crisis and keep their budgets mostly whole. Their qualification for — and their acceptance of — PPP funds highlights the quasi-public-private structure of charter schools, which receive state funding but are managed privately.

The Current calculated the $31 million total using data released by the U.S. Treasury in early December. Charter schools overseen by the State Public Charter School Authority received the majority of that money — $27.3 million. However, six charters sponsored by school districts received a combined $4.5 million.

PPP awards ranged from $168,500 to the online charter Leadership Academy of Nevada to $4.6 million to Doral Academy to support its five brick-and-mortar campuses in Southern Nevada. Many of the forgivable loans were coordinated and handled by the same entity, Academica Nevada, a regional branch of the Florida-based for-profit company that manages some 200 charter schools nationwide and has a strong presence in Nevada.

Read more: https://www.nevadacurrent.com/2020/12/24/nevada-charter-schools-got-millions-in-ppp-loans/

Anti-maskers who cited Book of Mormon and Constitution drop suit against Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

A group of Utah parents who sued to end Gov. Gary Herbert’s executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic asked a judge to dismiss their case last week.

The plaintiffs had used the Book of Mormon, the Utah Constitution and the U.S. Constitution to argue that they hold the freedom to care for and manage their children, and that “government must not support any action in opposition to the desires of a parent.” After the original group of eight parents filed their lawsuit on Sept. 3, nearly three dozen other individuals also filed to intervene as plaintiffs.

Herbert had mandated masks for all K-12 schools in July, but a statewide mask mandate did not come until November.

The lawsuit also sought to nullify a number of other pandemic-related executive orders issued by the governor, including restrictions on gatherings and business operations. The parents named Herbert as well as the Utah Department of Health and its executive director as defendants, claiming the orders meant “Utah has experienced an unprecedented and unlawful suspension of their most sacred and fundamental rights.”

Read more: https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/12/25/anti-maskers-who-cited/

Utah criticized for selling oil and gas leases in the original Bears Ears monument

Bluff • Weeks before the November election, a Utah agency leased 33 units of land to mineral and hydrocarbon companies.

The offerings are a routine practice for the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), which uses the money raised to help fund public schools. But environmentalists criticized the October sale’s inclusion of four oil-gas leases in San Juan County that overlap with the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, as they were designated by President Barack Obama in 2016, and could potentially complicate a future land exchange.

Obama’s 1.3 million-acre national monument was created at the request of five Native American tribes with ties to the region, and it included hundreds of thousands of cultural sites dating back 10,000 years. Proponents of the monument, including the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, have argued that the area’s rich natural and cultural resources make it incompatible with oil and gas development and the monument designation included a mineral withdrawal.

But the monument also encompassed 109,000 SITLA acres, which are not subject to federal national monument designations. The presidential proclamation establishing the monument directed the secretary of the Interior to explore a land swap with Utah. That would mean the feds would give SITLA valuable federal lands elsewhere in exchange for taking over the state parcels in the monument.

Read more: https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/12/26/utah-criticized-selling/
(Salt Lake Tribune)

University, hospital move away from 'Dixie,' but locals are split

Some institutions in southern Utah are moving away from the name Dixie because of its ties to the confederacy. The hospital will have a new name in 2021 and the university could be next, if the state Legislature passes a bill to do so.

But there are also efforts within the community to keep the name around, and they’re hoping legislators will listen to them, KUER reported.

Troy Blanchard is one of the leaders of the Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition, and their motto is “stand up for Dixie.” He said he knows it will be an uphill battle to keep the name of the university, since a change was unanimously recommended by the board of trustees and state board of higher education.

But he said he has hope southern Utah legislators will listen to their constituents.

Read more: https://www.thespectrum.com/story/news/2020/12/26/utah-institutions-dixie-university-hospital-st-george/4048610001/
(St. George The Spectrum)

Star Utah running back Ty Jordan dies after standout freshman season

Utah running back Ty Jordan, the Pac-12's Freshman Offensive Player of the Year in 2020, died early Saturday morning, according to the university's athletic department.

"Words cannot express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling right now upon learning of the tragic death of our teammate and brother, Ty Jordan," Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement. "Ty's personality and smile were infectious, and he made a huge impact on our program in the short time he was with us."

On Saturday, Denton, Texas, public information officer Allison Beckwith told USA TODAY Sports that police officers responded to a shooting call at 10:38 p.m. ET Friday. They discovered a victim who had suffered one gunshot wound. Beckwith said after life-saving measures were attempted, the victim was transported by the fire department to the local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

After a preliminary investigation, Beckwith said the suspected cause of death was a "fatal accidental shooting."

Read more: https://www.thespectrum.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2020/12/26/ty-jordan-utah-utes-dies-freshman/4047989001/
(St. George The Spectrum)

North Texas Mother Loses Two Children to COVID an Hour Apart

ARLINGTON, Texas — This year, too many seats will be empty at Christmas dinner because of COVID-19. Even with a new vaccine, thousands of people are still fighting for their lives.

Carmen Bracy is a mother in North Texas who has to bury two of her adult children after they both died from COVID-19. She has a message for people: you shouldn’t have to know someone who died to care and do your part to end the spread of COVID.

The week of October 27 marks the week Carmen Bracy’s life changed forever.

“My two children. My two adult children… it’s just that… I’m sorry,” she said as she paused to wipe away tears.

Read more: https://spectrumlocalnews.com/tx/dallas-fort-worth/news/2020/12/24/north-texas-mother-loses-two-children-to-covid-an-hour-apart-

Ohio Judge Pulled From Cases Over Coronavirus Concerns

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge who failed to adopt written rules for mask wearing and other coronavirus prevention measures has been removed from two cases by the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Although Muskingum County Court Judge Mark Fleegle announced some preventative steps after a complaint, his lack of written procedures makes it difficult for jurors and others to know what’s expected of them, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said in an order earlier this month.

“Even if Judge Fleegle is convinced that he can preside over a safe jury trial without any sort of written protocol,” O’Connor wrote, he should recognize, “that the health concerns of attorneys and parties should be an important factor in deciding whether to proceed with jury trials during this phase of the pandemic.”

Harry Reinhart, the defense attorney who filed the complaint, raised concerns about the lack of a courtroom mask mandate, limited social distancing, no discernable air circulation and no barriers between participants. During a recent trial, “a significant number of jurors (three or four) never wore masks,” Reinhart said in his complaint.

Read more: https://spectrumnews1.com/oh/columbus/news/2020/12/26/ohio-judge-pulled-from-cases-over-coronavirus-concerns

Downstate judge tosses decision voiding Pritzker's executive COVID orders

SPRINGFIELD — In early July, a judge in downstate Clay County voided Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders in a sweeping order that he applied to the entire state, at the request of a southern Illinois lawmaker who sued Pritzker over his response to the pandemic.

More than six months later, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow has essentially voided Judge Michael McHaney’s July 2 order in the case of Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia.

Bailey’s lawsuit against Pritzker claimed the Democratic governor had exceeded his legal authority in issuing a stay-at-home order in March to fight COVID-19.

Pritzker’s lawyers asked Grischow last month to “reconsider” the July 2 order from McHaney, who initially presided over Bailey’s case before it was transferred to Sangamon County.

Read more: https://chicago.suntimes.com/coronavirus/2020/12/24/22199052/illinois-coronavirus-lawsuits-darren-bailey-masks-pritzker-emergency-orders-judge-ruling
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