Dear Editor,Almost five years passed, five budgets presented, more than one trillion dollars squandered, David Granger and his clueless Cabinet and other big officials jetted around the world many times, frequented all the “hot” spots in Guyana, while communities like Linden were ignored and neglected. This past weekend, Granger and his PNC colleagues woke up and discovered that without Linden, they have no chance of winning the March 2 elections. They came, as usual, with empty promises, hoping they can still fool the people.Granger decided to take the PNC to Linden to celebrate the 62nd founding anniversary of Forbes Burnham’s party. They brought supporters from all over the country, generously utilising Government resources for what was essentially the PNC launching its elections campaign. To ensure the presence of enough people, they brought out school children in their uniforms. In the process, Granger appealed to Lindeners to give him a second chance, admitting he neglected them for five years, even if he did not admit it out loud.In his second chance appeal, he promised them, if they give him a second chance, that he will ensure 150 new jobs will be created in 2020 by the establishment of a new call centre at Kuru Kuru. He also promised 500 new house lots if he gets his second chance. He promised them that a Private Sector investor will build an oil refinery in Linden. Clearly, Granger and the PNC recognised that they abandoned people, including their own supporters. Linden has been loyal to the PNC, no matter what form they assumed. When they re-birthed themselves into the PNC/One R, the Linden people stuck with them. When they took on a new name – APNU – the people of Linden stayed with them. When they took on the name APNU/AFC, the people continued to support them.But it has now been almost five years since they have had the power of Government. In those five years, they expended more than one trillion dollars. Yet Linden is no better than they were in 2015, indeed, Linden is worse than they were in 2015. The people of Linden have begun to whisper that they were better off with the PPP. Just as people realised they were deserted by the PNC before 1992, the people of Linden know they were taken for granted by the Granger-led PNC. As they descended mightily on Linden with supporters from around the country to prop them up, in case the people of Linden did not show up, they deliberately left their associates – WPA, AFC and the several others – in Georgetown. Really, it was Granger and the PNC being as devious as they have always been, whispering it was not the PNC that abandoned Linden, it was the WPA and the AFC and all the others.As most people in Linden went about their business, it was pathetic seeing Granger in his ‘not bothered’ pose watching the children sit there into the midnight hours, watching supporters from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine and other parts of Region 10 being fetched there with Government resources, wondering where the people of Linden were. In his ‘not bothered’ pose, he kept waiting to see Linden turn out to salute him. They did not because in 2018 he told them to “get up and get going” and not wait for Government to make things happen for them. The people of Linden did not forget. They also know elections are coming up and Granger and his bunch, all of whom have been incorporated into the PNC, are back with wild promises.The PNC in the form of APNU/AFC gave up the housing programme of the PPP that brought thousands of house lots and thousands of new homes into Linden. Granger and APNU/AFC had told people before the 2015 elections that they will create thousands of new house lots for thousands of new homeowners, make it easier for them to obtain low-interest mortgages. Now, as we approach 2020, they make the promise of 500 house lots, after delivering none in five years.But the most hurtful promise was the promise of 150 new jobs through a new call centre. In 2015, they promised thousands of new jobs with new call centres. But the first thing they did was a down-scaling of the call centre that was established under a PPP Government. The call centre in Linden that was there in 2015 because of the PPP first reduced its operation under APNU/AFC, and, by 2018, had closed its doors.The ‘not bothered’ Granger did nothing about it. Suddenly, he shows up in Linden and in front of the fetched-in supporters, told Lindeners if they give him a second chance, he will bring 150 new jobs in a new call centre. Sheer hypocrisy and more empty promises.In the meanwhile, other communities across the country that were neglected are making noises. The people of Buxton know they were neglected. The sugar workers across the country know they were neglected. The public servants know they were abandoned. Just yesterday, more than 4000 sugar workers sent a petition to Granger to correct a wrong he personally led – they have not been given a wage increase since the end of 2014. Granger himself led the empty promise campaign in 2015 to fool workers that they would be given an annual increase of 20 per cent. Instead, since Granger and APNU/AFC took the Government, the sugar workers have not been given a cent in increased wages. And the man he promised will build the oil refinery in Linden is the same man he took around the country to promise rice farmers they would be paid $9000 per bag for paddy. Payback time has arrived and the people of Guyana will not be so forgiving, they will not give them another chance for empty promises.Sincerely,Dr Leslie Ramsammy
Two weeks ago, world-famous web animator Monty Oum, who worked for an Austin-based production company called Rooster Teeth, passed away unexpectedly after suffering an allergic reaction during a routine medical procedure that left him in a coma. In response, his employer asked that anyone who was looking to pay tribute did so creatively – instead of simply sending flowers or gifts.Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns, who are also based in Austin, have obliged. The program put together a tribute ball signed by every player. Alan Abdine, director of business development at Rooster Teeth, thanked the Longhorns on Twitter.Huge thanks to Matt Sims and the @Longhorn_FB team from all of us at @RoosterTeeth for the #MontyOum tribute ball. pic.twitter.com/yXpwi8ngms— Alan Abdine (@abdine) February 17, 2015Very cool. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Oum’s family, friends and coworkers.
YouTube/Colin CowherdOn his show, FOX Sports 1’s Colin Cowherd has been going through the schedules of major college football programs and giving his early projections for the upcoming season. He likes Michigan and USC this fall, but when it comes to the Wisconsin Badgers, his breakdown is not nearly as encouraging.Cowherd’s four biggest factors that play into his prediction are:1. The loss of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to LSU.2. The graduation of Joel Stave.3. Wisconsin’s schedule: “the toughest schedule I think I’ve seen in the Big Ten in years.”4. The defense is strong in the back, a bit weaker up front.Here is Cowherd’s full breakdown: That is a 6-6 season, with wins over Akron, Georgia State, Nebraska, Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota, and losses to Alabama, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, and Northwestern. He’s not wrong about the schedule; the Badgers play the four best teams from the 2015 Big Ten season in a row from September 24 to October 22. Yikes.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina regulators have a couple of billion-dollar decisions to make on Friday.The Public Service Commission will determine how much to cut rates for 737,000 South Carolina Electric & Gas customers who have already paid more than $2 billion for a pair of nuclear reactors abandoned during construction, and whether to approve a roughly $15 billion cash and stock bid from Virginia-based Dominion Energy to buy SCE&G’s parent company SCANA Corp.It’s a pivotal point in the unraveling of South Carolina’s nuclear debacle, which started in the summer of 2017 when privately-owned SCANA and its minority partner, state-owned Santee Cooper, gave up on the reactors they had spent a decade planning and building. The main contractor, Westinghouse, went bankrupt as it failed to make good on its promises of cheaper, easier construction methods. Projections of soaring electricity demand never materialized, thanks to energy efficiency and the advent of cheap natural gas.Commissioners have two important judgments on their agenda. First is whether SCE&G executives knew the project was failing and lied so that regulators would approve additional rate hikes to keep customers paying for it. Second is whether Dominion’s offer is good enough for ratepayers, or still leaves them on the hook for too much of the debt for the never-finished reactors.“Let me be blunt. You have a utility that bet the farm and lost. SCE&G poured $5 billion into a project and got nothing for it. By the end of this year, customers will have paid $2.2 billion for absolutely nothing — not a single watt of electricity,” said lawyer Scott Rubin, arguing on behalf of the AARP and its members — many of them consumers on fixed incomes — at the start of three weeks of hearings held by regulators in November.For most of the past 18 months, political leadership in South Carolina told SCE&G and Dominion they weren’t doing enough to ease the ratepayers’ burden. But now Attorney General Alan Wilson and House Speaker Jay Lucas are backing Dominion’s latest offer, which the state’s own consumer advocate and environmental and consumer groups says falls short.Dominion’s latest offer gets rid of the $1,000 rebate checks to SCE&G customers that dominated much of the merger discussion in 2018. Instead, Dominion wants to keep SCE&G rates at the same level set by legislators who passed a temporary 15 per cent rate cut earlier this year that knocks about $22 off the typical monthly bill. In 20 years, SCE&G customers would add $2.3 billion to the $2 billion they already paid for the mothballed project.Most of the consumer advocacy groups are still pushing for more. Watchdogs in the state’s Office of Regulatory Staff want about a 20 per cent rate cut, removing closer to $30 from monthly bills, and eliminating most of the extra charges for the reactors. Consumers and environmental groups want a bigger cut.Dominion Energy said a larger rate cut would force them to walk away from the SCE&G deal, although they made the same threat when lawmakers considered the temporary cut. When that passed, they altered their merger proposal.SCE&G said a significant rate cut without the extra money from the Dominion deal means bankruptcy, although utility executives testified before regulators they could not guarantee that is what they would do.Public Service Commission Chairman Randy Comer said the regulators’ hands remain tied by a law passed in 2007 that greatly reduced their ability to scrutinize rate hikes.The Base Load Review Act allowed the utility to get rate increases to essentially pay in advance for the reactors without risk to its shareholders, and sets a high bar to get that money back. There have been legal challenges, but the law is still in place.“For about the last year, we’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. Some by people looking for a good sound bite on TV or in the newspaper,” Comer said at the end of the November hearings. “We’ve been unable to respond.”On Friday, the commissioners get to speak as loudly as they want.Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
Over the next five years, the City has budgeted $256 million for capital projects.Joy says the City has a current debt capacity available of $76 million, with $14 million available for the debt servicing capacity.“What we have available to us is a $76 million that we could go into debt for which we wouldn’t want to do necessarily. The debt servicing capacity, that we have available to us is $14 million if we wanted to go into debenture to pay for something.”In 2019, the capital budget includes four-laning of 100 street up to Northern Lights College for $5.9 million, $5.5 million for renovations at Centennial Park, $2.8 million for the new RCMP building with more money budgeted for that project in 2020 and 2021. The list of projects in 2019 also includes a fire training centre for $1.5 million and sewage lift station upgrades worth $4 million.Joy says the new RCMP building’s funding will be covered by both the PRA and Municipal debentures if it will be a fully integrated building. He also adds that the lease payments from the RCMP will help cover the debentures.“A big one coming up, obviously, is the RCMP building and if it’s a fully integrated building, with the Provincial side and the Municipal side, will be financed with about 60 percent PRA money and 40 percent will have a debenture issued. The lease payments that we charge to the RCMP will match the debt servicing obligations of the debenture.” FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John presented Council with the draft capital budget for 2019-2023 at a recent Committee of the Whole Meeting.David Joy, General Manager of Corporate Services, presented Council with the draft capital budget.The capital budget covers longterm projects like roads, sidewalks, buildings and machinery. This budget is not funded by property taxes, but other revenue streams including the Peace River Agreement with the Province. Joy also said that the debenture will still have to go to a referendum by explaining to the public that the Provincial portion will not affect the tax rates.This meeting was the first of many public budget meetings that have been scheduled and served as an introduction to the 2019 Capital Budget. Further direction will be provided at future meetings.The deadline for the budget to be finalized is May 15, 2019, with City staff planning to have it finalized and approved by Council sometime in April.