Monday, October 14, 2019

PG&E power outages: What you need to know - San Francisco Chronicle

PG&E power outages: What you need to know  San Francisco Chronicle

“One Year Later: Florida Panhandle struggles to recover from Hurricane Michael - CW39” plus 1 more

“One Year Later: Florida Panhandle struggles to recover from Hurricane Michael - CW39” plus 1 more

One Year Later: Florida Panhandle struggles to recover from Hurricane Michael - CW39

Posted: 09 Oct 2019 11:03 AM PDT

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The catastrophic damage caused by category 5 Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018 is still visible one year later.

Local residents like Curtis and Rhonda Hawley are still dealing with homes that are missing walls and have bare concrete for floors.

"Six hours changed our world. Changed our lives. We'll never be the same," Curtis Hawley said. "Now we're trying to find a plumber, trying to find an electrician, cabinetry, flooring. There's still so much to do."

About 34,000 homes in Bay County sustained damage, but county officials have only issued 17,000 building permits since last October.

"We are much further ahead at this point than I expected us to be at this point," said Bob Majka, the county manager for Bay County.

The large majority of the debris is finally gone. Workers removed nearly 17 million cubic yards of debris from all of the county's right of ways – a little more than 3 million from Panama City alone.

"This debris removal operation that cities and the counties are participating in, it's the largest single civilian operated debris removal program in the history of the U.S.," Majka said.

Residents, business owners and others are still fighting with insurance companies, hoping they will honor their word or that a judge will force the companies to honor their insurance policies.

"Insurance has been a nightmare," Rhonda Hawley. "We had to get a lawyer for our insurance company.  So, even though they gave us a small amount of money, it's not enough to repair our home."

For some, the only way to describe the storm is to compare it to a war.

"It looked like the place was carpet-bombed," said Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki.

But in the wake of the destruction, heroes emerged. John Newcomb of Honest John's Electrical helped restore power to about 300 Panama City homeowners. And he did it free of charge.

"When the storm hit, and I could help these people, I knew we were at the right place," he said. "You know, you just gotta lace up your boots and go and do everything that you can to help get these people back, and that's what we did."

Now that the initial recovery is over the city is focused on addressing damaged and abandoned properties. On October 11, city officials will start citing owners who are not actively working to make repairs.

"If you don't do it, we're gonna do it, and if we do it, we are going to take that amount and we're going to add it to your property tax bill," Brudnicki said.

The city is also looking to transform the downtown area in hopes of creating a new community for residents, shoppers and tourists. They are looking for more than a million dollars in funding from state and federal funding grants.

"We know what kind of funding we're gonna have coming in and some sacrifices of things we are going to have to do.  Like we might have to take out bonds to be able to pay for things.  But we have to progress and, as the funding comes in, we can pay that off," said City Commissioner Jenna Haligas.


The quiet seaside town of Mexico Beach became ground zero for Hurricane Michael. As the storm approached the city's police department went door-to-door in hopes of convincing residents to evacuate.

"We had just under 300 people that wanted to stay. Twenty-four hours before the impact of the storm, it was down to 100," said Mexico Beach Police Chief Anthony Kelly.

Donald Martin Blood II was one of the few who stayed and lived to tell the tale.

"That's when things went crazy. It was like a whiteout. It started blowing the other direction right off the water and you couldn't even see across the street anymore and water started to come in the house," he said.

The storm damaged more than 70 percent of the city's structures and the population has dwindled from 1,100 residents to less than 500. When it was over, those who remained tried to help one another. Kyle Rigsby, an electrician and homeowner, hot-wired a city owned backhoe and began clearing the streets and helping his neighbors.

A year later and city officials say they have finally removed the debris. The city is still years away from anything resembling a recovery. But locals say the storm didn't just transform the landscape, it transformed their hearts.

"It changes the perspective of life entirely, you appreciate the little things more," Kelly said.


Tyndall Air Force Base, located just west of Mexico Beach, was also flattened by Hurricane Michael. Every single building on the base suffered damage.

"As we looked around, the first thought we had was, 'were glad we got the people off of the base'.  And the second thought was, 'we're going to have a lot of work to do,'" said Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing Commander.

That work was stalled for months as Republicans and Democrats fought over funding priorities. Once the money arrived the commanders began focusing on the job ahead.

"I think in '83 was the last time that we sort of built a base from scratch, and that is effectively what we are doing," said Brig. Gen. Patrice Melancon, reconstruction program executive director. "We are rebuilding the base to be a digitally connected, installation of the future, it's going to be a model for other Air Force bases."

The crown jewel of the rebuilt base will be three F-35 squadrons, the first of which is supposed to arrive in October of 2023.


As Hurricane Michael swept north, it caused serious damage in Jackson County and had a major impact on the 50,000 people who live there.

"I think that in a lot of ways we're different because we're stronger and we know that we could do it again," said County Administrator Willane Daniels.

The county had 32 million dollars in damage and is now operating under a 5-to-10-year recovery plan.

"The Commissioners have their focus often on roads, they want better quality of life for the citizens whether that be paving projects or whatever.  So, we will be looking for all grant funding capability for that," Daniels said.

County officials are also focused on housing and on turning the former Dozier School for Boys property into an economic hub with residential housing.

"Don't get down, Jackson County's gonna come back probably better, in the next probably five to 10 years you are gonna see a Jackson County that is so beautiful that everybody in the United States is gonna want to come here." said Rodney Andreasen, Jackson County's Emergency Operations Director.

Jackson County has seen growth in residential housing partly because the apartments and homes Bay County residents depended on were destroyed. As the apartments came back residents found their rents rising and, in some cases, doubling.

"A one-bedroom that was $700 before the storm now is $1200 after the storm, that don't make no sense," said resident Daniel Marlow.

More than 500 people are living in housing provided by FEMA. However, that housing will be shuttered in April of 2020. Meanwhile, restaurants and other businesses are struggling to find workers. Many can't afford to live in Bay County under the wages provided at most businesses.

Thankfully, this won't last real estate experts say.

"I think over the next six months to a year, we will normalize the pricing in Bay County," said Tom Neubauer, a local real estate agent. "A lot of companies have jumped in, apartment builders with several large projects actually in the pipeline already."

One of the largest businesses in the area, the St. Joe Company, is committed to helping the community recover.

"It just takes time to develop all the infrastructure properly," said Jorge Gonzalez, the president and CEO of the St. Joe Company. "As you see new product come into the market, again it will balance out as it should.  Maybe not to where it was, but certainly much better than it is now."

The housing crisis is far from the only problem facing the local area.  School officials are struggling with a mental health crisis as they try to solve a teacher shortage and meet the needs of their students. Many of those students are still essentially homeless.

"They (the students) inspire me and they give me hope because they do recover and bounce back from things so quickly," said Arnold High School teacher Cathleen McNulty Mann.

And while progress has been made, a full recovery is still far in the future.

"I'd say three years before you really notice significant changes," said Superintendent Bill Husfelt. "I mean the spectrum is just all over the place. And, of course, every roof in the whole county almost needs to be redone."

And while the buildings can be repaired, the mental scars remain.

"I think, mentally, thunderstorm comes and everybody's just afraid, including myself," said J Dia Green-Jones, an Arnold teacher.

Just like the rest of the community, WMBB weathered the storm and has come out on the other side. The station was knocked off the air when debris from the church next door cut out generator lines and killed the power. The debris damaged the station's roof and rain flooded the facilities. Construction teams have been rebuilding the station for the last 12 months.

People who live in Florida's Panhandle know things won't be the same as they were before Hurricane Michael. While a long road to recovery remains, residents are hopeful – promising to rebuild, recover and craft a community that's even better than it was before the monster storm. That's the essence of being Panhandle Strong.

News5 hours ago Flood sacks residents, shuts down traffic in Lagos - New Telegraph Newspaper

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 07:14 AM PDT

A major barrier to accessing family planning commodities in the country is the out-of-pocket cost of consumables, especially at the local government supported Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs). But increasing budget lines for family planning as well their timely release would make needed services more accessible. APPOLONIA ADEYEMI reports

Living in Nigeria with a growing population estimated at 198 million by the National Population Commission (NpopC), it is common to hear about advocacy groups promoting the use of family planning to curb the exponential population.

Such advocacies are usually hinged on curbing population growth, which experts said was growing beyond available resources; it was also geared to highlight numerous health benefits that are associated with adopting and using family planning.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines family planning as something that "allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods."

For instance, pregnancies that are too early, too close, too late or too many carry extra hazards not only for the health of the woman but also for the child and based on these benefits and more, advocates of family planning raise the current level of awareness in this regard, while speaking positively for the adoption and use of family planning.

The highlighted points above are some of the issues discussed at the World Contraceptive Day 2019 Media Dialogue on Family Planning in Lagos State, which was organised by Pathfinder International Nigeria.

The World Contraception Day is a worldwide campaign observed annually on September 26, with the aim to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

The media forum sought amongst other issues, to unpack the significance of contraception, drive conversation with key cross-sectoral stakeholders in the Adolesecent and Youth Sexual Reproductive Health (AYSRH) space with a view to securing more efficient funding for AYSRH in Lagos State.

Among family experts at the media dialogue were Senior Reproductive Health Officer at the Ministry of Health in Lagos State, Mrs Idowu Okanlawon; Rasheedat Umar, Youth Development Officer at the Ministry of Youth and Social Development in Lagos State; the Assistant Reproductive Health Programme Officer at the Primary Health Care Board in Lagos State, Dr. Abimbola Folami; Chairman of Public Health Sustainable Initiative Advocacy (PHSAI), Abiodun Ajayi, who is the Lagos State Coordinator, Life Planning Adolescent Youths (LPAY), among others. The programme similarly had in attendance other key members of Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI) and members of the Media Advocacy Working Group (MAWG) in Lagos State.

Part of the big issue raised on that day was that if used effectively, family planning can save lives.

For instance, with a maternal mortality ratio at 546 deaths per 100,000 live births (amounting to 40,000 pregnancy-related deaths annually), Nigeria accounts for 14 per cent of the global burden of maternal deaths, 95 per cent of which are caused by seven preventable conditions, including unsafe abortion.

Each year, it is estimated that between 610,000 and 1.2 million abortions are procured by women aged 15 to 44 years. Experts say that if all females who need family planning had access to the commodities, 44 per cent of all maternal deaths in Nigeria could be averted.

However, what plays out in the country is that about 85 per cent of women and 95 per cent of men report that they know contraceptive method, but just 15 per cent were using it.

The unmet need of women willing to stop or delay births but not using contraception is 18 per cent, according to the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS).

According to the Chairman of PHSAI, Ayo Adebusoye, going by the Lagos State Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) target to increase its family planning uptake from 48 to 74 per cent by 2018, the target of which has now been revised after the 2017 London Summit to target 2020., the increase in CPR alone would have saved an additional 657 mothers and 8,500 children lives by 2018. In addition, Lagos State would have saved an additional N3.5 billion (approximately $10 million) in direct healthcare expenses by 2018.

However, Adebusoye said these achievable targets will not be possible without eliminating current barriers to family planning methods, choice and use, adding that a major barrier to accessing family planning commodities is the out-of-pocket cost of consumables, especially at the local government supported primary healthcare centres (PHCs).

While family planning commodities including injectables, implants, intra uterine devices (IUD), condoms, among others, are provided free by the Federal Government with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the shortage and sometimes the non-availability of consumables like cotton wool, gloves, syringes, spirit, plaster, gels, creams, among others, used to administer the commodities on clients, could limit access to family planning uptake.

Demand from most clients of low-income families, as little as N500 for a consumable with which family planning commodity would be administered on the client, usually ended in 'no-deal' for most poor clients.

These category of women don't have money for consumables, no matter how little. When they depart a family planning clinic with the promise to return on a future date because of lack of money for consumables, often they do not go back there.

According to a family planning expert, Dr. Salami Habeeb, when next they are seen at the health facility, they are already pregnant. Habeeb is a consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist and consultant with the Pathfinder International Nigeria.

Poor budgeting and sometimes, delay or lack of budget release have been largely blamed for shortage of consumables. For instance, available records show that the family planning budget at the Lagos State Ministry of Health in 2018 was N103 million. Also, the budget for family planning consumables at State Primary Health Care (PHC) Board in 2018 was N50 million, but none of the above budgets were released that year.

To prevent delays in release of budgeted funds as well as ensure the provision of improved family planning budget, Adebusoye said PHSAI members have engaged sole administrators of the local government council areas in Lagos, heads of local council development authorities, medical officers of health, and chairmen of community development committees.

Based on findings that many local government council area chairmen lack the understanding of family planning, Okanlawon said more frequent advocacy visits to them should take place to educate them on the importance of providing funds for family planning consumables.

"If we really want to achieve our objective of getting increased funding for consumables, we should pay more courtesy visits and conduct more awareness campaign to the chairmen," he said.

On her part, Umar explained that the Ministry of Youth and Social Development in Lagos State where she is a desk officer, has a budget line for HIV/AIDS, but the UNFPA funds most of the ministry's activities around sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

She said: "For my ministry, we have a budget line for HIV/AIDS, but sometimes, we try to inject sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) into it. Hence, we are still trying to find a way of merging it. "UNFPA is supporting us by giving us condoms," she said, adding, "We don't go beyond giving condoms because we are youth officers."

Asked what was done when young persons need more than condoms, Umar said they were usually referred to health facilities.

On unfriendly officers, she said: "We are improving on that while ensuring that most officials on that beat are young persons who the youth clients could trust so as to achieve a youth-friendly atmosphere."

Based on the high risk sexual behaviour among young people, which is responsible for the increased teenage pregnancy, out of school girls, baby dumping, post abortion complication and death in Lagos State, the Chairman of LPAY under the auspices of PHSAI, Abiodun Ajayi called for increased discussion around adolescents and youth SRH/family planning.

In addition, he called for sustained increase in the budgetary allocation for Adolescent Youth and Sexual Reproductive Health (AYSRH) in the 2020 Budget in Lagos. If the highlighted recommendations could be carried out effectively in Lagos and other states, family planning experts and other stakeholders agreed that these could increase uptake of family planning in the country.





Bissell PowerFresh steam mop is $20 off at Walmart - Mashable

Bissell PowerFresh steam mop is $20 off at Walmart - Mashable

Bissell PowerFresh steam mop is $20 off at Walmart - Mashable

Posted: 10 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Get your floors shiny, clean, and sanitized.
Get your floors shiny, clean, and sanitized.

Image: Bissell

TL;DR: The floor-sanitizing PowerFresh steam mop from Bissell does the dirty work that vacuums can't — grab one at Walmart for just $79 (saving you $20 off the original price). 

Yes, vacuums do suck up annoying messes like pet hair, dust bunnies, crumbs, and what have you — but a vacuum doesn't exactly clean your floor, does it? Like, sanitize it? In addition to your Roomba or Dyson vacuum, you should probably have a mop on-hand as well to completely round out your spring cleaning arsenal. 

And here's a good option: The Bissell PowerFresh steam mop. Even better, it's on sale at Walmart for just $79 — $20 off of the original price

You may not have ever even considered adding a steam mop to your utility closet, but it's actually a super useful tool to have. The PowerFresh will give your floors the spotless, shiny finish they deserve with the help of its powerful steamer and Easy Scrubber head that can thoroughly clean tough messes, as well as grout and crevices. Even sticky, dried-on spots are no match for this steam mop — and it'll get rid of them fast. It even has built-in fragrance discs that'll give your entire home a fresh scent after each use. Killing 99 percent of bacteria for a fair price, it's a no-brainer to scoop up this deal while you can.   

Say hello to truly clean floors — grab the Bissell PowerFresh steam mop at Walmart and save $20 off of your purchase

Bissell PowerFresh steam mop is $20 off at Walmart

“The First Thing I Did When Water Damage Strikes - Agence de presse D.I.A.” plus 2 more

“The First Thing I Did When Water Damage Strikes - Agence de presse D.I.A.” plus 2 more

The First Thing I Did When Water Damage Strikes - Agence de presse D.I.A.

Posted: 30 Sep 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Dealing with water damage in your home or business can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. Whether you discovered hidden water damage from a slow leak or you're dealing with sudden flooding from a burst pipe or a storm, we know it can be hard to know where to turn. Water is one of the most destructive elements on earth, and when you discover water damage, immediate action is crucial. Standing water can spread surprisingly quickly throughout a building, and the likelihood of permanent damage increases the longer water sits. If water damage happen in you house you might call an expert flood restoration Australia to fix it. Whether it's from storm floods, flooded basements, broken pipes, sewage backups, malfunctioning appliances, or an overflowing toilet, we will get your life back to normal fast.

The First Thing I Did When Water Damage Strikes

What do you need do for a water restoration?  The first step is to resolve the cause of the water. Whether it's a leaky dishwasher, broken supply line, or sewage backup, the restoration process begins with fixing the problem. Without identifying and resolving the cause of the water damage, you will only have more problems in the future.

Once the cause of the water is fixed, you can remove the standing water and sewage from the affected areas. For larger floods or sewage backups, you might need to pump out the affected area. For smaller jobs, you may use vacuums to suck up the water. Depending on the specific damage, water extraction may take place after removal and disposal.

Furthermore, it is important to inspect the damage and remove materials that cannot be restored. This may include materials like plaster, drywall, ceilings, carpeting, and carpet padding as well as personal items affected by the damage. Unfortunately, furniture, paper-products like books, magazines, and newspapers, and other porous items may need to be discarded. After disposing of materials that cannot be restored, you may need to use the service of professional grade air and water movers and dehumidifiers to dry out areas and materials that can be salvaged. They closely monitor our equipment to ensure the fastest drying time possible and prevent further damage. Dry out may take several days depending on the extent of the damage.

Once the area is dry, it is essential to thoroughly sanitize and deodorize the area to prevent mold and smells from developing over time. In addition to structural materials like flooring, walls, and ceiling, it is also possible to sanitize and deodorize the affected furniture, fabric, and other materials that were salvageable.

The final step to achieve the best result from a water damage restoration is rebuilding and restoring the area to the original condition. This may include hanging the new drywall, laying new carpeting, installing new cabinets, and refinishing hardwood floors. It may be necessary to replace damaged appliances or fix structural issues with your property as well.

Often, water damage starts with a slow leak that builds into a huge problem. You might not notice any signs of water  damage for a long time, which gives mold and mildew a chance to grow and spread throughout your home.Therefore, if you suspect that you may have water damage in your home or business, we highly recommend you to call a flood restoration service for help. An expert in water damage can come in and immediately discover any areas with unseen water retention. As a result, you will be able to sleep easier given the fact that your home is finally free from the water damage and the dangerous mold it can cause.

Midtown condos promised luxury. Angry tenants say it’s been more blight than bliss - Kansas City Star

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 03:00 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Midtown condos promised luxury. Angry tenants say it's been more blight than bliss  Kansas City Star

2019 VOTERS GUIDE | Manhattan City Commission | News - Manhattan Mercury

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 05:00 AM PDT

Eight candidates are vying for three spots on the Manhattan City Commission.

Aaron Estabrook is a community liaison at Flint Hills Job Corps, and also served on the USD 383 Board of Education from 2013-2018. Mark Hatesohl served as a commissioner and mayor in the 2000s and also works as a chiropractor.

Kaleb James works at Maximus as a senior business analyst. Current city commissioner Linda Morse used to work at Kansas State University's distance education program and is now retired.

Maureen Sheahan oversees a K-State research lab in the university's biochemistry department. Mary Renee Shirk is a comedian and performer, a former local radio personality and news reporter.

Sarah Siders has a private therapy practice at Andrews and Associates Counseling and also is a pastor at The Well. Vincent Tracey is a U.S. Army retiree and works at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an information technology specialist.

The Mercury emailed each candidate a set of questions. Here are the eight candidate's responses. (Answers have been edited for brevity and length.)

The election is Nov. 5. The deadline to register to vote Tuesday, and advance voting in-person and by mail starts Wednesday.

What should the commission do to address flooding issues in the city?

Estabrook: Take action toward long-term solutions, not just band-aids. Future development of retention ponds around Wildcat Creek watershed need to happen now. I will push for availability of Federal Flood Mitigation funds, which allow cities to buy out homes and businesses that are in flood zones or have been impacted by prior floods. The levee project is essential, and it's going to cost the city at least $11 million. It protects 1,600 acres, 2,300 structures and roughly 7,600 people, $1.2 billion in assets, including our city water facility. This is a big factor to consider when voting on the sales tax.

Hatesohl: There isn't anything we can do in the city to stop the Wildcat Creek flooding. The city needs to work with and support the upstream detention plan that the county commission study showed would help slow the water inflow into Wildcat Creek. The city needs to continue to lobby Fort Riley for some rainwater detention on their east property edge. Money should be spent on solutions that prevent in-town flooding, not on buying up properties in the flood plain. Stop the flooding and the houses are safe again.

James: The city commission would benefit from working with the Army Corps of Engineers and the county commission to construct retention and/or detention ponds in order to keep citizens safe. Additionally, the building of homes and apartments in areas that are known to be prone to flooding needs to stop.

Morse: Manhattan is situated at the convergence of two rivers. The level of flooding continues to rise with each successive year. After the 1993 flood, the elevation set by community consensus as the lowest level for new residential development has proved to be inadequate. A higher community standard is now necessary to raise the elevation required for new development. That is difficult to achieve due to the many competing interests. All partners (city, county, adjoining counties, Fort Riley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, developers, landowners) must come together to reach consensus and then bring money to the table to protect residents.

Sheahan: The city is already doing a lot to address the flooding issues, including upgrading the aging storm sewer system, agreement to proceed with enhancements to the levee, run-off limitations for new construction, among other initiatives. That being said, it may be time to reassess drainage in the Northview and east Manhattan area. The sink holes are a major concern, as is the ongoing threat of flooding in some of the Northview neighborhoods. Storm water mitigation in the Wildcat Creek watershed will have to be addressed in cooperation with Riley County.

Shirk: The city should stop approving development in any flood plain, continue the buy-outs of residential properties that are flooding and develop a plan for how to use that land in a way that helps those downstream. The city should accept responsibility for planning and development mistakes of the past and learn from those missteps. Offering yard waste pick-up more than once a year, perhaps after large storms, would be of great service to all of us battling the Kansas weather, while encouraging property owners to help keep stormwater routes and drains clear.

Siders: In order to ensure a safe, affordable and competitive place to live, Manhattan residents need to feel confident that every effort is being made to address these concerns. I am in favor of the improvements to the levee as they will protect key investments downtown, and the federal funding is available to support this. Other measures that may be appropriate would be limiting development in flood plains; buyouts for homes that are at repeated risk of flooding, and specifically along Wildcat Creek, installing retention ponds. As additional measures are recommended, I plan to learn, listen and make thoughtful decisions.

Tracey: The commission and by extension the city have committed to raising the levee after FEMA funding became available. I don't believe that that action alone will resolve the danger of flooding in the downtown area. The northern area (Marlatt through Dix) is an open gate for flood water to bypass the levee.

Will you vote in favor of the 0.3% sales tax increase? If the measure passes, what should be the priority for that additional money?

Estabrook: Kansas has the highest sales tax on food and groceries in the entire country. The Legislature has the ability to reduce or eliminate sales tax on food and needs to do that. However, the city of Manhattan is dealing with serious flooding concerns and we need to have funding to build-up the levee and mitigate further damage from Wildcat Creek. I will personally support the sales tax because I believe the urgency of flood protection outweighs the gamble of waiting on a better mechanism to pay for it. The revenue should be prioritized toward public safety projects.

Hatesohl: I will personally vote for it because the city has been kicking these projects down the road as far as they can. This way at least some of the money for these projects will come from visitors to the community and not all from the Manhattan citizens in the form of property taxes. The first projects will be the airport runway and the levee improvements. The commission will have to be diligent to get these projects funded and not allow this money to get lost in the budgeting process.

James: I will begrudgingly vote for the 0.3% sales tax increase. If the measure passes, I would like to see funds dedicated to paying off the six projects with prioritization set to levee enhancements. In the future, I would like to see the commission commit and implement a sunset to any tax proposal on the ballot. Also, include language that states if the tax performs well and pays off the project early the tax would sunset the first day of the following month and any additional income would be allocated to street maintenance.

Morse: The proposed [0.3%] sales tax initiative on the Nov. 5 ballot will support projects outside of the regular budget that assures continued economic vitality: public safety needs, flood response, transportation infrastructure and investing in our youth. These initiatives have been very transparent to citizens via open meetings, public hearings and news articles. While both sales taxes and property taxes are viewed as regressive, I will support the sales tax increase because these projects are needs, not wants. Ballot initiatives provide dedicated revenue streams to fund the projects. Consider it making good on a promise.

Sheahan: I do not plan to vote for the sales tax increase. If the tax increase does pass, my funding priorities would [be] the levee enhancements, the airport runway and the Douglass Recreation Center. Aggieville does need attention, including fixing the sewers, which could be combined with streetscape and sidewalk enhancements, but work in Aggieville needs to proceed carefully and must include an ongoing dialog with the business owners to ensure that their businesses are not negatively impacted. The worst outcome for Aggieville would be for the local businesses to not survive the duration of the planned construction.

Shirk: No, if the measure passes, the priority for that money should be to complete the projects promised to the voters when the tax was proposed. I support the projects that have been proposed; my opposition to the tax is the lack of planning for the future. The airport runway needs to be replaced; we need to realize it will need to be replaced again in the future. The city should be saving money for that eventual project instead of the current model of assuming voters will approve a tax increase.

Siders: The sales tax initiative is a difficult proposition as sales tax has a disproportionately negative impact on lower-income people. In addition, the fact that the sales tax does not have a sunset is another concern of mine. However, sales taxes are in part shared with visitors, which is a benefit, rather than property tax increases, which burden only residents. In addition, there are several projects, such as the North Campus Corridor improvements, Aggieville parking garage and Douglass Center, which have varied funding sources and would create momentum toward quality of place. For these reasons, I would support the sales tax.

Tracey: In general, I favor sales tax increases over property tax increases. I would have preferred a sunset date and designated usage for the increase. If the initiative passes it should first be used for those safety projects that the city has already committed to.

Do you have any specific ideas to stimulate the economy? If not, what existing initiatives are most important?

Estabrook: A workforce housing initiative is a new idea I support. Manhattan is not a stepping-stone to a better place; it is the better place. The core of our attractiveness to the outside is based on the capacity we already have on the inside. We need to reach our potential with the tools and talent we have today. This can be accomplished by empowering the private sector entrepreneurs to make small bets in our community knowing that the city is creating a culture of discovery by being innovative and in some cases removing the government and bureaucratic hurdles that stifle improvement.

Hatesohl: With enrollment down at KSU for the near future, we need to support Manhattan Technical College and help them to expand their programs. The jobs for their grads are in demand, their starting wages after graduation are good and the educational experience is less expensive. We need to ease up on some of the zoning and code ordinances. These are making projects too expensive and too cumbersome. The hold-up with the new Braum's store is an example of too many regulations. We need to continue with the chamber's Region Reimagined initiative to develop a new eco-devo plan for the future.

James: Yes, stop raising property tax rates. Also, work with business organizations in the city to identify the pain points for new and existing businesses, especially small businesses and determine what burdens exist that the city can assist with.

Morse: We must challenge all citizens to come forward with ideas to bring more people into the workforce. We must use our collective influence to attract students to K-State, keep Fort Riley strong and vital, and continue to serve farmers and regional agricultural interests. Consider the overall economic impact that NBAF construction alone has made on our local economy. The city contracts with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce to lead on these fronts. A major new effort called Region Reimagined is working to revitalize the local economy. I want to make every single economic development dollar count.

Sheahan: One of the fastest ways to enhance economic growth is to invest in human capital, including putting more dollars in the hands of those who would spend the money locally and quickly. Investment in physical capital and entrepreneurship are longer term growth vehicles. Thus, initiatives that enhance wages, particularly at the lowest incomes, would have the quickest return on investment. I would be interested in exploring ideas such as incentives for local small businesses that increase wages for their lowest paid employees. I am in favor of finding ways to invest eco-devo dollars in local small businesses.

Shirk: In 2015, the arts contributed $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy, more than agriculture, transportation or warehousing. Many other cities, [like Salina], have an arts and humanities position to use the arts as an engine to drive economic development. It is difficult for retail businesses to compete with the internet, and people are becoming less focused on acquiring things and more focused on having experiences. I was a member of the CVB task force to examine ways to deal with the loss of Country Stampede. It became clear Manhattan needs to make a solid investment in arts, music and entertainment.

Siders: My goal is to see Manhattan become a place of prosperity for everyone. Prosperity comes from an expanding tax base in which our community not only supports our local businesses, but also successfully brings in dollars and investments from the outside by attracting businesses and individuals. The businesses we want to attract are looking to hire the globally talented. While this next generation could live anywhere, we want them in Manhattan. Attracting the talent of young professionals is key to prosperity, and for this reason, we must understand what this next generation is looking for in a place to live.

Tracey: I will work to get the state lawmakers to remove the taxes on food/groceries so more people can afford living here. If this can be done it would free up funds for our lower-income citizens. This would make more funds available for them to buy from our businesses.

Do you think the commission has properly handled the property tax rate? If not, what should the city do differently?

Estabrook: The previous commissions have put the citizens of Manhattan in a position where we have to choose between running the risk of losing everything in a flood, or pay more every time we make a purchase in Manhattan in order to build a levee that will protect us. No taxpayer wants to see property taxes increase, including me. I'm going to do all I can to make our community safer and stronger while keeping property taxes flat. I'll respect the voter's decision on the sales tax and make our budget work accordingly.

Hatesohl: The city hasn't been the main driver of property tax increases, that falls on the school board and county commission. I am afraid that in an effort to keep property tax increases down, the city commission has been raiding the economic development fund. I worry that we are eating our seed wheat and when we need some money to help a local business expand or bring a new business here, there may not be the funds available that were intended for that use. With franchise, permit, water, wastewater and storm water fees, the city has a lot of other ways to generate revenue, beside property taxes.

James: No, they have not. There should be a flat mill rate and the commission should be forced to operate within a budget. For the past six years, the commission has repeatedly used property tax increases to bail themselves out of making difficult decisions. The commission cannot continually increase the cost of living through taxation and simultaneously claim to support affordable housing in Manhattan.

Morse: Each year, the city commission listens to our community in multiple meetings and balances priorities in order to establish a budget that determines taxing levels. This year saw a minimal increase of 4/10th of one mill to maintain services and safety. It is important to consider that the citizens of Manhattan have voted to support alternative funding for street repairs, school routes, pools, trails and two new indoor activity centers. I interpret those votes as support for the current city budget and almost flat property tax rate levels. The majority of citizens support the initiatives to hold down property taxes.

Sheahan: Because the city currently has only two revenue streams — sales tax and property tax — the commission is stuck between a rock and a hard place. In years past, the state provided revenue sharing with municipalities. When the economy was flat, these revenues buffered against lower sales taxes. Cities no longer receive that buffer and won't unless the state changes the income tax bracket. Collection of internet sales tax may help, that process is no yet in place. There are a lot of factors that tie into this question and 100 words is not sufficient to scratch the surface.

Shirk: Yes and no. As a homeowner, I've watched my property taxes go up due to increases by the city, county and school district. The elected officials of these governing bodies need to acknowledge the cumulative effect these taxing entities have and realize there is a limit to what we are willing/able to pay. Elected officials must take taxpayer's input and criticisms seriously. As commissioner, my goals will include increasing civil engagement. I will utilize social media and regularly scheduled office hours to discuss citizen's concerns, air grievances and allow more involvement in decisions affecting the property tax rate.

Siders: From my review of the city budget and conversations with city staff, there is not much margin in the budget from year to year, but the need to increase the mill levy each year concerns me. From my conversations with residents, I hear an experience of ever-increasing taxation, leading to a wariness of new tax-funded initiatives and a lack of trust of government. I would like to see the city more efficiently utilize the funding we currently have without consistently raising the property tax rate to pay for services. I believe the passing of the sales tax could help with projects.

Tracey: One of the reasons that I am running is the ever-increasing property taxes. Understanding there are other taxing bodies that affect the property taxes, I believe the city must coordinate with those bodies to help flatten the taxing rates. Currently, people are choosing to live outside of the city and county where taxes are more affordable.

Backstage: Finding truth is exciting - Ashland Tidings

Backstage: Finding truth is exciting  Ashland Tidings

Sunday, October 13, 2019

“Don't even try to repair the Essential Phone - Engadget” plus 4 more

“Don't even try to repair the Essential Phone - Engadget” plus 4 more

Don't even try to repair the Essential Phone - Engadget

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Want to Be a Competitive Overclocker? Here’s How to Get Started - Tom's Hardware

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Apple's Touch Bar MacBook Pro Will Be A Costly Fix - Laptop Mag

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Vivo offers one-time screen replacement offer for the V7+ at Rs 990 - Digit

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The best carpet cleaners you can buy - Business Insider

The best carpet cleaners you can buy - Business Insider

The best carpet cleaners you can buy - Business Insider

Posted: 01 Oct 2019 09:00 AM PDT

The best steam cleaner

Dupray carpet cleaner

The Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner utilizes the pressure of steam to offer chemical-free sanitization that can be used on floors, grout, and so much more.

The Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner brings the power of steam cleaning to your home at an affordable price. In just seven minutes, this unit heats steam to 275 degrees, allowing you to quickly get cleaning. This low-moisture steam works on all surfaces, including floors, furniture, mattresses, ceramic and tiles, grout, and even car interiors. It's more than just a carpet cleaner, and its versatile design makes it suitable for use throughout many areas in your home. 

This steam cleaner cleans, disinfects, sanitizes, degreases, and deodorizes without using chemicals, relying instead on the cleaning power of pressurized steam. According to This Old House, steam cleaning can loosen dirt and kill threatening substances like dust mites, bacteria, mold, and allergens. Additionally, the hot steam dries quickly. Because this cleaner uses just water, you also don't have to worry about buying (or running out) of cleaning products. 

You can operate the Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner with just tap water, and it offers up to 50 minutes of continuous cleaning time. This 18-piece kit includes everything you need to do a full-house cleaning, including a rectangular floor tool, three microfiber pads, a window tool, two extension tubes, one lance, one microfiber cloth, one triangular tool, one triangular tool microfiber bonnet, five nylon brushes, one brass brush, and one AddFresh Fragrance Disc.

The unit weighs just 9 pounds and is on wheels, so you can roll it through the house. It also features a 16-foot power cord and a 6.5-foot steam hose, allowing you easier access to hard-to-reach spaces.

The Dupray Neat Steam Cleaner has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Amazon, based on more than 800 reviews. Good Housekeeping positively reviewed this cleaner, giving it a score of 85 out of 100. They said, "The Dupray Neat Multi-Use Steam Cleaner boasts impressive cleaning prowess, scoring nearly full marks across the board on all of our tough cleaning tests. We were especially satisfied with its window cleaning ability, blasting away embedded dirt effortlessly, drying fast and leaving the glass shiny and smear-free." 

Pros: Chemical-free cleaning, steamer operates on just tap water, heats up in seven minutes, works on multiple surfaces, backed by a two-year warranty, up to 50 minutes of cleaning time

Cons: No suction or vacuum function, steam can be dangerous so careful handling is needed, need to continuously hold down a button to operate steam function

Buy on Amazon for $149.78