LETTER TO THE EDITOR Former Selectwoman Encourages Board To Keep Current Town Counsel

first_imgDear Wilmington Residents,FACT: There are significant risks associated with Olin Superfund Site and the looming New England Transrail (NET) in south Wilmington.FACT: The Olin site is responsible for shutting down the Maple Meadow Brook Aquifer back in 2003.FACT: There are millions, millions, of gallons of contamination in the groundwater associated with the site and has over 100 chemicals of concern.FACT: It is one of the worst sites in the state!FACT: NET is a proposed transrail facility by Olin at the site that is poised to have NO (emphasis added) over sight from the town because they are exempt as a rail carrier.FACT: Olin is seeking an exemption from top level EPA staff to not have to clean up their mess, something that is called a technical waiver. This could soon happen, anytime.FACT: The town has one of the best environmental attorneys in the state that has represented the town well on these issues.FACT: The BOS knows all this.The Wilmington Environmental Restoration Committee (WERC), to which I am VP, is a non-profit set up to oversee the Olin site through a technical assistant grant from the EPA. We also received a grant to help in the review of the NET proposal. We recently went through a similar situation as the town’s current law firm did where our consultants’ company was bought out and split. We did everything in our power to keep the people we had working on the site because the prospects for getting someone up to speed on the complexities of the Olin site would clearly hurt our ability to properly review the site and pending comments on deliverables. It would take years like it took years for the EPA and our current consultants to get up to speed.I voiced these concerns to the BOS at the hearing for town counsel. I said for the past 20 years many citizens have worked 1000’s of hours behind the scenes. We don’t get pay nor recognition and want neither. What we do want is support. Don’t cut our legs from underneath us and leave us with counsel that is uninformed and not up to speed with the nuances of these issues. Unfortunately, once I left a selectman disputed me and said it would only take a few days for new counsel to get up to speed with Olin and NET. That comment just shows the lack of understanding and knowledge about these issues and the multiple layers of regulation and complexities. Makes me wonder what knowledge of the site he posses to say such a thing. I could see taking this risk of replacement if there were issues with the firm. But none have been presented. Otherwise, why then? Politics? This position has been the subject of political significance before and could be playing a role behind the scenes once again.Dan Duetch the environmental attorney for the current firm has done well for the town. Not one Selectman disputed this or the associated attorneys’ credentials. He was an important cog in the wheel to stop NET from putting in a trash transfer station and identifying that the town was at risk with out having a tolling agreement with Olin to protect our rights. Something overlooked by the prior counsel. Any issues brought up at the meeting with counsel ended being the town’s will, not counsel’s. If there are issues find ways to work them out, maybe a temporary agreement? But do not throw the baby out with the bath water or try to fix what is not broken. Too much is at stake and depends on having the best legal representation and that is what residents deserve. I hope the Selectman respect the work WERC is doing on behalf of the town and they do the right thing and not leave us in a more vulnerable position than we already are in regarding Olin and NET.Suzanne SullivanLike Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedLETTER TO THE EDITOR: Former Selectwoman, Environmental Activist Slams Selectmen For Town Counsel VoteIn “Letter To The Editor”STATE REP RACE Q&A: Judy O’Connell Discusses State Rep Pay, Environmental IssuesIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: Town To Decide This Fall Whether To Run Water Line To Residents With Contaminated WellsIn “Government”last_img read more

Why Diversion Courts Are An Issue In The District Attorneys Race

first_img 00:00 /04:01 Listen Gail DelaughterHarris County District Attorney Devon Anderson speaking at a 2015 news conference. Like some people who’ve had too much to drink, Rachel Chizum thought she’d be OK to drive. We met Chizum near her job in north Houston. She told us what happened to her a couple of years ago.“I was like, I’ve done this so many times. I just live a couple of miles up the street,” says Chizum. “I know the route like the back of my hand. I could do it blindfolded.”Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016But Chizum didn’t get very far. She was about to merge onto Interstate 45 when the blue lights appeared in her rearview mirror. “I know I wasn’t speeding but they pulled me over,” adds Chizum. “They didn’t need a reason anyway.”And come to find out, Chizum was far from OK to drive. She says her blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. To complicate matters this was Chizum’s second DWI. She pleaded guilty and got two years probation. Her case was later transferred to SOBER court, an initiative for people at risk of driving drunk again in the future.The program requires more than just a check-in with a probation officer. There are classes, frequent court appearances, and drug and alcohol testing. But Chizum says the personal attention totally changed her attitude. “They’re there to listen to you,” says Chizum. “They’re there to help you.” How to deal with offenders like Chizum is one of the issues in the D.A.’s election. Incumbent Republican Devon Anderson is locked in a tight, contentious race against Democratic challenger Kim Ogg.Gail DelaughterKim Ogg gathered with supporters in July for a news conference outside the Harris County Jail.Besides the DWI court, Harris County has set up other specialty courts, like the STAR court for non-violent drug offenders. There’s also the SAFE court for prostitution cases. Other initiatives are aimed at veterans.“We’re waking up to the fact that we cannot keep building jails and prisons to keep up with this kind of policy that would just lock these folks up rather than really addressing their issues,” says Sandra Guerra Thompson, Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center.  “The purpose of the courts is to try to get people out of jail more quickly so that they’re not stuck in jail for low-level offenses.”So how bad of a problem is it?  Officials say there have been some days when the Harris County jail population reached over 9,000 inmates. The county then has to spend thousands of dollars to transfer inmates to jails in other counties.And what about people who are mentally ill? The Harris County Jail is considered the largest mental health provider in Texas, but Thompson says it’s not really set up for that. Another issue that causes overcrowding — people arrested for nonviolent offenses who don’t have the money to post bond. “The people that we’re talking about tend to be people who are just barely hanging on, and two to three days without work means that they lose their job,” explains Thompson. “And they lose their job, they lose their apartment. They lose their apartment, they lose their kids. And it just spirals out of control.”So where do the candidates for Harris County District Attorney stand on the issue of diversion courts?Devon Anderson points to several new programs with the goal of ending what she calls “criminal history building.” That’s when offenders agree to do a small amount of jail time so they don’t have to deal with probation.“Especially we saw that with the less than a gram cases in felony court where people would take a felony conviction but do 30 days in the county,” says Anderson. “For a drug addict that’s very attractive because they don’t have to do any treatment. They get back out and they can keep getting high but we see them right back again.” Ogg is also a fan of diversion courts, but she says to make those programs really work, you have to open them to more people. “They have proven effective and they are part of what I would say has improved, the part of the system that has improved, in the last 15 years,” says Ogg. “Unfortunately they represent a tiny fraction of the people charged in Harris County.” Meanwhile back in north Houston, we asked Chizum where she thinks she’d be right now if it wasn’t for SOBER Court. “Well if I wasn’t locked up in the jail I’d be on my way,” says Chizum. “One day or another, I just know that for a fact.”   Chizum hopes to soon complete her probation. She says she’d like to counsel other people going through the program. Sharecenter_img X To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: last_img read more

Texas Schools Lack Sufficient Number Of Mental Health Professionals Experts Say

first_imgAccording to state records, Texas public schools employed a little more than 12,100 counselors in the 2016-2017 school year. Those counselors were responsible for a statewide enrollment of almost 5.4 million students, for a ratio of 442 to 1.“A lot of that has to do with geography, it has to do with the philosophy of the leadership in a school district, and it has to do with the resources that are available,” said Jan Friese, the executive director of the Texas Counseling Association.Friese said a school’s finances and priorities are the biggest factors in determining whether a counselor has a small enough caseload to spend time in classrooms and meet students one on one.She said when counselors are in charge of a large number of students, most of their time can be taken up with academic tasks such as aptitude tests and course recommendations. Their time can be further limited when principals ask them to handle additional duties, like monitoring lunch.“When students have access to a school counselor, the campus is safer; they feel more secure; they’re more likely to talk to and trust adults; their academics improve,” Friese said.According to state records, charter schools in Bexar County had both the lowest and highest student to counselor ratios: Por Vida Academy with 132 to one, and Great Hearts Texas with one counselor for all 2,312 students last school year.Most school districts in Bexar County had counselor ratios between 400 and 500 students per counselor.Friese said working with other mental health professionals such as social workers can help school counselors reach more students, but out of thousands of Texas school districts, only a fraction employs social workers. Some cities, including San Antonio, rely on nonprofits like Communities in Schools to help fill in the gaps.Miriam Nisenbaum, the executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said there are only around 700 school social workers in the state because Texas doesn’t require schools to have them.“Because we’re not more clearly defined in the Texas education code we have more latitude,” Nisenbaum said. “Most social workers in the schools in Texas do work hand in glove with the school counselors, but they have more of an ability to get off campus and look at the other systems that the child is involved to see how they can be of help.”She said even with the help of nonprofits, Texas needs more social workers, and they too could help reduce bullying and behavior concerns in schools.“There’s no fool-proof way to say that, you know, ‘if we just had psychiatrists at school we could prevent school shootings.’ You can’t,” Nisenbaum said. “But what you can do is have more trained personnel like social workers who can spot and can follow up on people with behavioral issues (and) emotional issues.”Thomas Schanding, with the Texas Association of School Psychologists, said his national organization recommends a school psychologist ratio of no more than 700 to one, and a school social worker ratio of 400 to one.Last year, Texas public schools employed 1,850 psychologists for a ratio of almost 2,900 to one.Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille JOHN K. HAMILTON| U.S. NAVY / HTTP://BIT.LY/2PGGPNDSchool counselors teach students coping methods and help them work through their emotions and behavior.For every public school counselor in Texas last school year, there were almost 450 students.The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250 to one.After the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month, experts across the country renewed a call for increased access to counselors, social workers and therapists.In an open letter signed by thousands of organizations and individuals, the school violence researchers said access to mental health providers can help prevent future school shootings.Texas mental health advocates say although ratios vary from district to district, many schools lack the staffing necessary to fully meet student needs.Read the complete open letter: Sharelast_img read more

Introducing Delhiites to the Indian folk music

first_imgWith the intentions to revive the folk music of different parts of our country, The Indira Gandhi National Art Center (IGNCA) has been organizing a successful “Sanjari:Ek Bharat Shreshth Bharat” series every month from its 30th Foundation Day. The center is trying to make folk music available to the listeners so that it can maintain its existence and reach the new generation in its original form. The center has so far organized six successful events of ‘Sanjari: An India-best Bharat’ in which Arunachal, Bihar and Rajasthan, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir folk artists have made their presentation. In the 7th series of the event, folk singer of Uttarakhand Padmashri Basanti Bisht and Jogela Sidhuaj of Karnataka gave a presentation. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfIn the first session of the series held on May 19, Uttarakhand’s first female Jagar singer Basanti Bisht tied up with her team to enthrall the audience. She started the program with the Manglik songs related to Vedic rites of Uttarakhand, after which she dedicated Jogger to Lord Bhole Nath. In the second session of the series on May 20, Karnataka folk artist Jogela Sidhuaju presented his presentation. Jogela Siddhu Raju, a folk singer of Karnataka, has been singing folk songs since childhood besides pursuing engineering. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveSiddhuaju started his presentation with the description of various incarnations of Lord Shiva, whose words were ‘Balukkak (Blokkaka) Diya God Saaya’. Then he sang the Kamsale Padam, the Kamsale post was the melodious rhythm of the Karnataka Lok Gangit, whose lyrics were ‘Aadiri Raggaala-Nudisiri Taklagala’, that is, playing rhythm and singing the songs of Hari. His next presentation was ‘Chalindaru Malligeya’, which is the folk song of Malai Mahadevar South India.last_img read more