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DUFFY'S CULTURAL COUTURE
Sunday, 12 June 2016
CORPORATE GREED: EPIPEN Goes From $60 To Over $613
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST

 





 

 

EPIPEN Goes From $60 To Over $613

 

 

Former hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli had the Internet ablaze after hiking the price of the drug that's been on the market for decades.  An HIV/AIDS patient advocacy group began raising questions about why Turing Pharmaceuticals jacked up the price for a medication from $13.50 per pill to $750 overnight, anger against the company has been boiling over.

 

The medicine, Daraprim, which has been on the market for 62 years, is the standard of care for a food-borne illness called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite that can severely affect those with compromised immune systems. Turing purchased the rights to the drug and almost immediately raised prices.

 

Alarmed consumers took to Reddit to call for a boycott of the company's products (with some pointing out that it's hard to boycott a drug if you'll die without it) and calling for new laws to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future.

 

Judith Aberg, a spokeswoman for the HIV Medicine Association, has calculated that even patients with insurance could wind up paying $150 per pill out of pocket. The enormous, overnight price increase for Daraprim is just the latest in a long list of skyrocketing price increases for certain critical medications.  Americans should not have to live in fear that they will die or go bankrupt because they cannot afford to take the life-saving medication they need.

 

In 2016, Mylan Pharmaceuticals took the same approach as Martin Shkreli and raised what was once an affordable life saving drug to one that is not affordable.  Yet, there was no public outcry like that heard when Shkreli did the same thing.

 

Heather Bresch, is the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals makes a lot of money.  Her total compensation is $9.96 million. Her compensation is broken down as follows: At $998,077, Bresch's base salary is the only one on our list to dip below $1 million. But her stock and options helped make up for that, at $2.84 million and $1.38 million, respectively. Plus, her incentive pay amounted to $2.375 million. She received $1.96 million in pension benefits and deferred compensation, plus $405,683 in other compensation, including $133,346 in personal use of the company aircraft.

 

Bresch grew up in Fairmont and Farmington, West Virginia. Her father, Joe Manchin is current a United States Senator in West Virginia.   Bresch attended high school in West Virginia. She also graduated from (WVU) in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations.

 

Bresch was an MBA student at WVU until 1998. In 2007, the Pitsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Bresch had claimed to have an MBA degree from West Virginia University, but the university disputed that. The university subsequently awarded her an MBA despite her not having attained sufficient credits (22 out of the required 48). In the ensuing controversy, the university announced in April 2008 that it would rescind Bresch's degree. Michael Garrison, WVU President at the time, was reported to be "a family friend and former business associate of Bresch" and a former consultant and lobbyist for Mylan. After a faculty vote of no confidence, Garrison and several university officials subsequently resigned.

 

From 2002 to 2005, Bresch served as Mylan's director of government relations. She contributed to the development of the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA, also known as "Medicare Part D).

 

When Mylan expanded internationally, Bresch noticed that Mylan's US-based pharmaceutical manufacturing plant had full-time staff from the  FDA devoted to it, whereas facilities abroad had not been inspected by the FDA for more than a decade.

 

Bresch persuaded several of Mylan's competitors to support what became the Generic Drug User Fee Act, which she proposed to lawmakers in 2010. Under the law the pharmaceutical industry would pay fees of $300 million in order to fund FDA inspections of foreign drug manufacturing facilities at the same rate as US-based facilities.

 

To advocate for the new law, she made regular visits to Washington, D.C., and sponsored a whitepaper.  The Generic Drug User Fee Act of 2012 was passed on July 9, 2012 and required FDA inspections of pharmaceutical manufacturing locations abroad if they are importing into the US.

 

Bresch has also advocated for broader availability of Epipens in public places to treat anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions), and has been active in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS treatment in developing nations.  She helped facilitate the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which made epinephrine more accessible in schools.

 

In a 2007 purchase of medicines from Merck KGaA, drugmaker Mylan picked up a decades-old product, the EpiPen auto injector for food allergy and bee-sting emergencies. Management first thought to divest the aging device, which logged only $200 million in revenue. Then Heather Bresch, now Mylan’s chief executive officer, hit on the idea of using old-fashioned marketing in part to boost sales among concerned parents of children with allergies. That started EpiPen, which delivers about $1 worth of the hormone epinephrine, on a run that’s resulted in its becoming a $1 billion-a-year product that clobbers its rivals and provides about 40 percent of Mylan’s operating profits, says researcher. EpiPen margins were 55 percent in 2014, up from 9 percent in 2008.

 

How Mylan pulled that off is a textbook case in savvy branding combined with a massive public awareness campaign on the dangers of child allergies. Along the way, EpiPen’s wholesale price rose roughly 400 percent from about $57 each when Mylan acquired the product. “They have done a tremendous job of taking an asset that nobody thought you could do much with and making it a blockbuster product,” says Jason Gerberry, a Leerink Partners analyst.

 

But while EpiPen has given countless parents a sense of security that their children can go out in the world safely, the device’s soaring price—up 32 percent in the past year alone—has forced some families to make difficult choices in order to afford the life-saving medicine. The price increases are among the biggest of any top-selling brand drug, according to DRX, a unit of Connecture that tracks drug pricing. After insurance company discounts, a package of two EpiPens costs about $415, DRX says. By comparison, in France, where Meda sells the drug, two EpiPens cost about $85. “There is a danger with that,” says George Sillup, chairman of the pharmaceutical and health-care marketing department at Saint Joseph’s University. If the company raises the price too much, “that could create some backlash.” People will die because they will use expired epipens or worse, not purchase one and they need it.

 

The company sees it differently. “Mylan has worked tirelessly over the past years advocating for increased anaphylaxis awareness, preparedness, and access to treatment,” Mylan spokeswoman said in a statement.  They also said the company doesn’t control final retail prices for EpiPen and offers coupons that eliminate co-pays for most patients. Bresch declined to comment for this story. These coupons that they make reference to range from $5 to $25 off the price of the epipen.

 

The CEO has made no secret of her strategy to increase demand for EpiPens by getting them stocked for emergency use in more schools and other public places. (So-called entity prescriptions allow for this.) “We are continuing to open up new markets, new access with public entity legislation that would allow restaurants and hotels and really anywhere you are congregating, there should be access to an EpiPen,” Bresch  has said.  So, then why the massive price increase patients are asking. As the demand has increased the costs to manufacture the drug have gone down, significantly. The more you make the less it costs to make it.

 

Over the past seven years, Mylan has hired consultants who had worked with Medtronic to get defibrillators stocked in public places. Bresch, the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), turned to Washington for help. Along with patient groups, Mylan pushed for federal legislation encouraging states to stock epinephrine devices in schools.

 

In 2010, new federal guidelines said patients who had severe allergic reactions should be prescribed two epinephrine doses, and soon after Mylan stopped selling single pens in favor of twin-packs. At the time, 35 percent of prescriptions were for single EpiPens. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had changed label rules to allow the devices to be marketed to anyone at risk, rather than only those who’d already had an anaphylaxis reaction. These are both big events that Bresch has capitalized on, at the risk of patient safety.

 

In 2013, the year following the widely publicized death of a 7-year-old girl at a school in Virginia after an allergic reaction to peanuts, Congress passed legislation encouraging states to have epinephrine devices on hand in schools. Now 47 states require or encourage schools to stock the devices.

 

Since 2012, Mylan has helped popularize its brand by handing out free EpiPens to more than 59,000 schools. Last year it signed a deal with Walt Disney to stock EpiPens in Disney’s theme parks and on cruise ships. We will guess that this was not done for free. Is Disney paying $600 a pop for the epipens?

Mylan also spent $35.2 million on EpiPen TV ads in 2014, up from $4.8 million in 2011, according to researcher Nielsen. Mylan disputes the ad spending figures but declines to offer alternatives. Is Bresch really concerned about people having reactions or just concerned about her own golden parachute?

 

In part because of Mylan’s efforts, the number of patients using EpiPen has grown 67 percent over the past seven years. Many kids with allergies own multiple sets, for school and home. And for doctors, who write prescriptions for the name they know best, the EpiPen brand “is like Kleenex,” says Robert Wood, a pediatric allergist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. However, Bresch has made the Epipen cost a lot more than Kleenex.

 

So far rivals haven’t been able to break Mylan’s market grip. Sanofi’s Auvi-Q, introduced in 2013, is in the shape of a credit card and—unlike EpiPen—gives step-by step audio instructions. But Sanofi priced Auvi-Q about the same as EpiPen, and the product struggled initially to gain insurance coverage. Sanofi says 9 out of 10 patients with commercial insurance can now receive coverage for Auvi-Q prescriptions. Yet in the first half of 2015, EpiPen had about an 85 percent share of epinephrine prescriptions vs. only 10 percent for Auvi-Q, according to Symphony Health Solutions data compiled by Bloomberg.

 

Still, allergy sufferers without generous health benefits feel the pain. Denise Ure, a social worker in Seattle, has a peanut allergy so severe that the last time she ingested a nut crumb in 2011, she needed three EpiPens and was hospitalized. Ure says she cried last year when she found out a prescription for two EpiPens would cost her about $350. “I was terrified because there’s this life-saving medicine that I needed, and I couldn’t afford it,” she says. Ure now carries two EpiPens she got in Canada, where they cost about half as much.

 

The biggest threat to EpiPen could come from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. It settled a patent lawsuit in 2012 allowing it to market a generic version of EpiPen as early as this year, if it wins FDA approval. Mylan isn’t too worried. Predicted Bresch in August: “You would not see the traditional market loss because of just the brand equity with EpiPen.

 

The bottom line: When Mylan bought EpiPen in 2007, the devices had $200 million in annual sales. Today revenue exceeds $1 billion.

 

The author of this article is no stranger to anaphylactic events. In her lifetime she has had over 10 significant events. All related to unknown cross contamination, hidden peanut oil used to cook their food, or an establishment who served food with nuts, it was returned and all they did was remove the hunk of nuts.

 

One such event came from eating dehydrated vegetable soup by Alessi.  All the author did was add boiling water to the soup. Within minutes of eating the soup she had head to toe hives that were multiplying by the minute. Her throat began to close off and she could not breath. By the time she got to the ER, she was in bad shape. The emergency room team was able to bring her back to normal but it took 4 days for the swelling to dissipate.

She had saved the pouch from the soup, for she could not understand what happened. She contacted Alessi and they investigated it. It turned out that the vegetable soup was packaged in the same plant where they packaged their biscotti cookies (that are loaded with nuts). They sent her 3 packages of olive oil for her troubles. She did not use the olive oil, although appreciated the gesture.

 

This is just one example. She is currently planning a trip to Africa and part of the planning process for trips is to ensure the chefs have the ability to handle her nut allergy. There were many hotels that said, No, tell her to bring her epipen." Imagine her dismay when she went to get a new one for the trip and find it cost $614 at CVS with insurance. A call to the company only told her to go to the epipen.com cost to get a coupon. A coupon that ranged from $5 to $25. YIPEE!!

 

An epinephrine autoinjector or epipen is a medical device for injecting a measured dose or doses of adrenaline by means of autoinjector technology. It is most often used for the treatment of anaphylaxis. The EpiPen is derived from the MARK I NAAK ComboPen, which was developed for the U.S. military for treating exposure to nerve agents in the course of chemical warfare.

 

After activation, the patient holds the device in place for between 5 and 10 seconds as the epinephrine is delivered. This gives the drug enough time to be absorbed by the body's muscles and diffused into the bloodstream.

Auto-injectors are sometimes used unnecessarily. Injection into a vein (intravenous injection) can be fatal. It can cause ventricular tachycardia, in which the heart beats uncontrollably and is not able to pump blood adequately. It can also restrict blood flow to the area of the injection site, and damage the extremities.[2] After administering the device, patients are advised to seek immediate medical attention.

An emergency technique (not manufacturer-approved) to obtain additional epinephrine from a used autoinjector has been published in the medical literature.[3]

Units that have exceeded their expiration date can still be used in an emergency if an unexpired unit is unavailable and the solution is neither discoloured nor contains precipitates.[4]

 

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that has many possible triggers, occurs quickly, without warning, and must be treated immediately with epinephrine. Symptoms may include hives, itching, swelling or redness of the skin, tightness in the throat, nausea, dizziness, breathing problems, a decrease in blood pressure and/or fainting. Anaphylaxis can be caused by triggers, such as food, stinging and biting insects, medicines, latex or even exercise. While symptoms of an allergic reaction vary from person to person, reactions can quickly progress to become life-threatening.

 

Food allergies are a growing public health concern.  As many as 15 million people have food allergies. An estimated 9 million, or 4%, of adults have food allergies.  Nearly 6 million or 8% of children have food allergies with young children affected. 

 

Food allergies may be a trigger for or associated with other allergic conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases.

 

Although childhood allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy generally resolve in childhood, they appear to be resolving more slowly than in previous decades, with many children still allergic beyond age 5 years. Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or shellfish are generally lifelong allergies and even progress in severity as we age in some cases.

 

The prevalence of food allergies and associated anaphylaxis appears to be on the rise. In 2008, the CDC reported an 18 percent increase in food allergy among children between 1997 and 2007.  According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. The economic cost of children’s food allergies is nearly $25 billion per year.

 

There are eight foods that account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.  An estimated prevalence, some based on self-report, among the U.S. population:

o Peanut: 0.6-1.3%

o Tree nuts: 0.4-0.6%

o Fish: 0.4%

o Crustacean shellfish (crab, crayfish, lobster, shrimp): 1.2%

o All seafood: 0.6% in children and 2.8% in adults

 

 A study has shown that peanut can be cleaned from the hands of adults by using running water and soap or commercial wipes, but not antibacterial gels alone. In addition, peanut was cleaned easily from surfaces by using common household spray cleaners and sanitizing wipes but not dishwashing liquid alone.  Some studies have also shown that most individuals with peanut and soy allergies can safely eat highly refined oils made from these ingredients. However, cold-pressed, expeller-pressed, or extruded oils should be avoided.

 

Casual exposure, such as skin contact and inhalation, to peanut butter is unlikely to elicit significant allergic reactions. However, those with significant reactions to nuts can demonstrate hives and GI disturbances just from sitting near people eating a food containing nuts.

 

According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protect Act (FALCPA) the major eight allergens must be declared in simple terms, either in the ingredient list or via a separate allergen statement. However, FALCPA does not regulate the use of advisory/precautionary labeling.

 

Eating away from home can pose a significant risk to people affected by food allergy. Research suggests that close to half of fatal food allergy reactions are triggered by food consumed outside the home.  One study looking at peanut and tree nut allergy reactions in restaurants and other food establishments found that reactions were frequently attributed to desserts, that Asian restaurants and take-out dessert stores (bakeries, ice cream shops) were common sources of foods that triggered reactions, and that the food establishment was often not properly notified of a food allergy by the customer with the allergy.

 

Research on self reported reactions occurring on commercial airlines show that reactions to peanuts and tree nuts do occur on airlines via ingestion, contact, and inhalation. Ingestion of an allergen remains the main concern for severe reactions.

 

The CDC reported that food allergies result in more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year among children under the age of 18. From 2004 to 2006, there were approximately 9,500 hospital discharges per year with a diagnosis related to food allergy among children under age 18 years.  Even a small amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.  Most allergic reactions to foods occurred to foods that were thought to be safe. Allergic reactions can be attributed to a form of mislabeling or cross-contact during food preparation.

 

 Food allergies are the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.  Every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department– that is about 200,000 emergency department visits per year, and every 6 minutes the reaction is one of anaphylaxis.  A failure to promptly (i.e., within minutes) treat food anaphylaxis with epinephrine is a risk factor for fatalities.

 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are important measures to prevent serious health consequences.

 

We can only hope that the CEO of Mylan does some deep soul searching and decreases the cost of this life saving drug. Or maybe, TEVA pharmaceuticals will get their generic approved and sweep Mylan under the carpet as it pertains to their financial position on this drug.

 

 

 

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

What are the common signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?

A: According to a 2010 article published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, during anaphylaxis symptoms can  range from mild to severe and may affect:

• Skin (up to 90% of episodes): hives (urticaria), itching (pruritus), flushing, itching and swelling of lips, tongue, uvula/palate2,3,4,5,6

• Airway (up to 70% of episodes): shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, itchy throat, hoarseness (dysphonia)2,4,5,6

• Gastrointestinal system (up to 45% of episodes): nausea, cramping, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea2,4,5,6

• Cardiovascular system (up to 45% of episodes): hypotension, chest pain, fast heart rate (tachycardia), weak pulse,

dizziness, fainting2,4,5,6

• Central nervous system (up to 15% of episodes): feelings of uneasiness, throbbing headache, dizziness, confusion,

tunnel vision2,5

Q: How quickly do symptoms appear?

A: Symptoms typically appear within minutes to a few hours following contact with an allergen.1,7

Q: How many Americans are at risk for anaphylaxis?

A: Though data on anaphylaxis incidence and prevalence are sparse and often imprecise, estimates indicate that anaphylaxis is a growing health problem that may affect 3 to 43 million Americans. There has been an increase in life-threatening allergic reactions in recent years, but as evidence by the range provided, more research needs to be conducted

 

How are people treated for anaphylaxis?

A: According to food allergy guidelines released in December 2010 by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), epinephrine is the only first-line treatment in all cases of anaphylaxis (including from food allergies) and should be available at all times to people at risk for anaphylaxis.3 Avoidance of allergic triggers is the critical first step to prevent a serious health emergency; however, accidental exposure may still happen.6,13

According to NIAID, if experiencing anaphylaxis, use an epinephrine auto-injector and seek immediate emergency medical attention.Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector does not prevent patients from having an anaphylactic reaction; hence, patients must avoid

their allergen at all times.3,6,14

 

Q: When should epinephrine be administered?

A: Epinephrine is the only first-line treatment in all cases of anaphylaxis (including from food allergies).3 If experiencing anaphylaxis, use an epinephrine auto-injector and seek immediate emergency medical attention.3

Anaphylaxis occurs when an allergic reaction involves one body system, either respiratory or cardiovascular alone; it may also occur in multiple body systems, such as the skin, gastrointestinal, and/or central nervous system.1 It is important to carry an epinephrine autoinjector if you have been diagnosed with life-threatening allergies. Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector does not prevent patients from having an anaphylactic reaction; hence, patients must avoid their allergen at all times.3,6,14

It is important to remember that the benefits of epinephrine treatment outweigh the risks of delayed or no administration. Delays in epinephrine administration have been associated with negative health consequences, even possibly death.15,16,17 Since

there are no absolute contraindications to epinephrine administration for an anaphylactic reaction, it is important to administer epinephrine immediately even if all criteria for anaphylaxis diagnosis have not yet been met.5

 

Q: How many doses of epinephrine are recommended for an individual to have on hand?

A: Epinephrine takes effect within minutes, but it is rapidly metabolized. As a result, its effect can be short-lived and repeated dosing may be necessary. In fact, according to a 2005 literature review published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, up to 20% of individuals who receive epinephrine will require more than one dose before symptoms are alleviated.18 The NIAID food allergy guidelines recommend that all patients at risk for or who have experienced anaphylaxis have access to two doses of epinephrine at all times.3 Seek immediate medical attention after use.

 

Q: Are antihistamines a viable treatment option for anaphylaxis?

A: Antihistamines are not indicated to treat the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis. Antihistamines are useful for relieving itching and hives. They do not relieve shortness of breath, wheezing, gastrointestinal symptoms or shock. Therefore, antihistamines should be considered adjunctive therapy and should not be substituted for epinephrine.3

Despite these facts, the use of antihistamines is the most common reason reported for not using epinephrine and may place a patient at significantly increased risk for progression toward a life-threatening allergic reaction.

 

What happens when a person has a life-threatening allergic reaction to food?

A: Food allergy-induced anaphylaxis occurs when the immune system is exposed to a specific food that triggers the release of chemicals, including histamine, resulting in symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction.3 Symptoms may include low blood

pressure, difficulty in breathing, nausea and/or vomiting.2

 

Q: How many Americans have food allergies?

A: While the exact prevalence of food allergies is uncertain, a 2010 study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology estimated 2.5% of Americans have a clinical food allergy.20 A study in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics found that 8% of children suffer from a food allergy — a considerable increase from previously reported figures.21

Q: Is there a cure for food allergies?

A: There is no cure for food allergies. Avoidance of allergic triggers is the critical first step to prevent a serious health emergency; however, accidental exposure may still happen.6,13 In fact, cross-contamination of otherwise safe foods at the time of packaging or food preparation (especially in restaurants) remains a potential hazard for individuals with food allergies.22 This is why it is important to be prepared with an anaphylaxis action plan, which includes avoiding known allergens, recognizing symptoms and having access to two epinephrine auto-injectors.1,12,23

Q: Are food allergies on the rise?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2008 that an 18% increase in food allergy was seen between 1997 and 2007.24 A study published in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics found a considerable increase in food allergy from previously reported figures — it found that 8% of children in the U.S., or approximately one out of 13, suffer from a food allergy. Of those children affected, 38% had a history of a severe reaction, and 30% had allergies to multiple foods.21 The prevalence of peanut allergies among children under 18 significantly increased from 0.4% in 1997 to 1.4% in 2008 (p <

0.0001).25

Q: How many children are at risk for anaphylaxis from food allergies?

A: A study published in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics found that an estimated one out of 13 children in the U.S. suffer from a food allergy, a considerable increase from previously reported figures.21 A survey conducted in 109 Massachusetts school districts

from 2001 to 2003 evaluating the use of epinephrine for anaphylaxis management in schools found that up to 24% of anaphylactic reactions occurred in individuals who were not known by school personnel to have a prior history of life-threatening allergies.

 

What is causing the increase in food allergies?

A: There is no definitive answer as to why food allergies are increasing. One theory, called the hygiene hypothesis, suggests that modern hygienic processes and a generally more sterile environment have reduced exposure to certain bacteria. To compensate, the immune system is conditioned toward an allergic state.13

Q: Can the severity of food allergy-induced anaphylaxis be predicted based on a person’s prior reactions?

A: The severity of food allergy-induced anaphylaxis cannot be predicted based on a person’s prior reactions. An estimated 22% of people who experience fatal food-induced anaphylaxis have had a previous severe reaction.27 The severity of a food-triggered life-threatening allergic reaction depends on a number of factors, including the amount eaten,

the food form (cooked, raw or processed) and the co-ingestion of other foods. Other considerations include the person’s age, the body’s sensitivity at time of ingestion, the speed at which food is absorbed by the body, and whether the person has another life-threatening condition, such as severe or uncontrolled asthma.22

Q: What are the most common food allergens associated with anaphylaxis?

A: The most common food allergens that can cause anaphylaxis are cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, etc.), fish and shellfish.13

Q: Why is food intolerance often confused with food allergies?

A: According to the NIAID food allergy guidelines, food allergies and food intolerance share some of the same symptoms; however, food intolerance does not involve the immune system. It can cause great discomfort but is not life-threatening. Some

people with food intolerances are not able to digest certain foods because their bodies lack the specific enzyme needed to break down that food.

 

What should people at risk for anaphylaxis look for in food labels?

A: By law, the eight major allergens (cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts including walnuts, cashews, pistachios and pecans, fish and shellfish) must be noted on all packaged food labels in the U.S., either in the ingredient list or

on a separate allergen statement.29 However, individuals with food allergies should be aware that advisory or precautionary labeling (i.e., “may contain,” “in a facility that also processes”) is not regulated and is solely voluntary.29

Q: Other than food, what are the most common triggers that lead to anaphylaxis?

A: Other common triggers of anaphylaxis are insect venom, latex, medications or exercise-induced. In about 20% of cases, no trigger is identified, known as idiopathic anaphylaxis.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

1Branum A, Lukacs S. Food allergy among U.S. children: Trends in prevalence and hospitalizations. National

Center for Health Statistics Data Brief. 2008. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db10.htm

2National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health. Report of the NIH Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research. 2006. Retrieved from www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodAllergy/research/ReportFoodAllergy.htm

3U.S. Census Bureau.State and County QuickFacts. 2010. Retrieved from quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

4Gupta RS, Springston, MR, Warrier BS, Rajesh K, Pongracic J, Holl JL. The prevalence, severity, and distribution of childhood food allergy in the United States. J Pediatr.2011; 128.doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0204

5Liu AH, Jaramillo R, Sicherer SH, Wood RA, Bock AB, Burks AW, Massing M, Cohn RD, Zeldin DC. National

prevalence and risk factors for food allergy and relationships to asthma: Results from the National Health and

Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. J Allergy ClinImmunol.2010; 126: 798-806.

6Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. QuickStats: Percentage of children aged <18 years with food, skin, or hay fever/respiratory allergies --- National health interview survey, United States, 1998—2009. 2011. Retrieved

from www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6011a7.htm?s_cid+mm6011a7_w

7U.S. Census Bureau. State and County QuickFacts.2010. Retrieved from quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

8Sampson HA. Update on food allergy. J Allergy ClinImmunol.2004; 113(5): 805-19.

9NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United

States: Report of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel. J Allergy ClinImmunol.2010; 126(6):S1-S58.

10Liacouras CA, Furtura GT, Hirano I, Atkins D, Attwood SE, Bonis PA, et al. Eosinophilic esophagitis: Updated consensus recommendations for children and adults. J Allergy ClinImmunol.2011.doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.02.040

11 Skripak JM, Matsui EC, Mudd K, Wood RA. The natural history of IgE-mediated cow's milk allergy. J Allergy

Clin Immunol 2007; 120(5):1172-7.

12 Savage JH, Matsui EC, Skripak JM, Wood RA. The natural history of egg allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;

120(6):1413-7.

13 Keet CA, Matsui EC, Dhillon G, Lenehan P, Paterakis M, Wood RA. The natural history of wheat allergy. Ann

Allergy Asthma Immunol 2009; 102(5):410-5.

14 Savage JH, Kaeding AJ, Matsui EC, Wood RA. The natural history of soy allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010;

125(3):683-6.

15Sicherer SH, Munoz-Furlong, A, Sampson HA. Prevalence of seafood allergy in the United States determined by a random telephone survey. J Allergy ClinImmunol.2004; 114: 159-165.

16Jackson K et al. Trends in Allergic Conditions among Children: United States, 1997-2011. National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief. 2013. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db121.htm17Gupta R, et al. The high economic burden of childhood food allergy in the United States. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol, 2012; 109: A1-A162.

18May CD. Objective clinical and laboratory studies of immediate hypersensitivity reactions to food in asthmatic children. J Allergy ClinImmunol.1976; 58: 500-515.

19 Bock SA, Buckley J, Holst A, May CD. Proper use of skin tests with food extracts in diagnosis of hypersensitivity to food in children. J Allergy ClinImmunol.1977; 7: 375.

Food Allergy Research & Education

www.foodallergy.org • (800) 929-4040

20 Bock SA, Lee W-Y, Remigo LK, et al. Appraisal of skin tests with food extracts for diagnosis of food hypersensitivity. J Allergy ClinImmunol.1978; 8: 559.

21Sampson HA, Albergo R. Comparison of results of skin tests, RAST and double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges in children with atopic dermatitis. J Allergy ClinImmunol.1984; 74: 26-33.

22 Sampson HA, McCaskill CM. Food hypersensitivity and atopic dermatitis: evaluation of 113 patients. J. Pediatr.1985; 107: 669-75.

23Bock SA, Sampson HA, Atkins FM, et al. Double blind placebo controlled food challenge (DBPCFC) as an office procedure: A manual. J Allergy ClinImmunol.1988; 82: 986-997.

24 Bock SA, Atkins FM. Patterns of food hypersensitivity during 16 years of double-blind placebo-controlled food challenges. J Pediatr.1990; 117: 561-567.

25 Perry TT, Conover-Walker MK, Pomes A, Chapman MD, Wood RA. Distribution of peanut allergen in the environment. J Allergy Clin Immunol.2004; 113(5): 973-976.

26Bush RK, Taylor SL, Nordlee JA, Busse WW. Soybean oil is not allergenic to soybean-sensitive individuals. J Allergy Clin Immunol.1985; 76: 242–245.

27Taylor SL, Busse WW, Sachs M1, Parker JL, Yunginger JW. Peanut oil is not allergenic to peanut-sensitive individuals. J Allergy Clin Immunol.1981; 68: 372-5.

28 Hoffman DR, Collins-Williams C. Cold-pressed peanut oils may contain peanut allergen. J Allergy

ClinImmunol.1994; 93: 801-2.

29Keating MU, Jones RT, Worley NJ, Shively A,Yunginger JW. Immunoassay of peanut allergens in food- processing materials and finished foods. J Allergy Clin Immunol.1990; 86: 41-4.

30Crevel RW, Kerkhoff MA, Koning MG. Allergenicity of refined vegetable oils. Food and Chemical

Toxicology.2000; 38(4): 385-393.

31Hefle SL, Taylor SL. Allergenicity of edible oils. Food Technol. 1999; 53: 62–70

32Simonte SJ, Sonhui M, Shideh M, Sicherer S. Relevance of casual contact with peanut butter in children with peanut allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2003(112):180-182.

33Wainstein BK, Kashef S, Ziegler M, Jelley D, Ziegler JB. Frequency and significance of immediate contact reactions to peanut inpeanut-sensitive children. Clin Exp Allergy. 2007; 37(6): 839–845.

34Crespo JF, Pascual C, Dominguez C, Ojeda I, Munoz FM, Estaban MM. Allergic reactions associated with airborne fish particles in IgE-mediated fish hypersensitive patients. Allergy.1995; 50: 257-61.

35Roberts G, Golder N, Lack G. Bronchial challenges with aerosolized food in asthmatic, food-allergic children.Allergy.2002; 57: 713-7.

36U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food allergen labeling and consumer protection act of 2004 (public law

108-282, title II). Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/food/labelingnutrition/FoodAllergensLabeling/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm

106187.htm

37 Ford LS, Taylor SL, Pacenza R, Niemann LM, Lambrecht DM, Sicherer SH. Food allergen advisory labeling and product contamination with egg, milk, and peanut. J Allergy Clin Immunol.2010; 126(2): 384-5.

38 Bock SA, Muñoz-Furlong A., Sampson H. Further fatalities caused by anaphylactic reactions to food, 2001-

2006. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007; 119(4): 1016-8.

39Bock SA, Muñoz-Furlong A, Sampson HA. Fatalities due to anaphylactic reactions to foods. J Allergy

ClinImmunol.2001; 107(1): 191-3.

40 Sampson HA, Mendelson L, Rosen J. Fatal and near-fatal anaphylactic reactions to food in children and adolescents. N Engl J Med.1992; 327(6): 380-4.

41Furlong TJ, DeSimone J, Sicherer SH. Peanut and tree nut allergic reactions in restaurants and other food establishments. J Allergy ClinImmunol.2001; 108: 867-70

42Sicherer SH, Furlong TJ, DeSimone J, Sampson HA. Self-reported allergic reactions to peanut on commercial airliners. J Allergy ClinImmunol.1999; 103(103):186-189.

43 Comstock SS, DeMera R, Vega L, Boren EJ, Deanne S, Haapanen LA, Teuber SS. Allergic reactions to peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds aboard commercial airliners. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol, 2008; 101: 51-56.

44Greenhawt MJ, McMorris MS, Furlong TJ. Self-reported allergic reactions to peanut and tree nuts on commercial airlines. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2009;124(3): 598-599. doi: 10.1016.jaci.2009.06.039

45Laoprasert N, Wallen N, Joes R, et al. Anaphylaxis in a milk-allergic child following ingestion of lemon sorbet containing trace quantities of milk. Journal of Food Protection.1998; 61: 1522-4.

46Gern, J, Yang E, Evrard H, Sampson HA. Allergic reactions to milk-contaminated ‘non-dairy’ products. N Engl J Med. 1991; 324: 976-9.

47Yunginger J, Gauerke, M, Joes R, et al. Use of radioimmunoassay to determine the nature, quantity and source of allergenic contamination of sunflower butter. Journal of Food Protection.1983; 46: 625-8.

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48Jones R., Squillace, D., Yunginger, J. Anaphylaxis in a milk-allergic child after ingestion of milk contaminated kosher-pareve-labeled ‘dairy-free’ dessert. Annals of Allergy.1992; 68: 223-7.

49Hourihane J, Kilbrun S, Nordlee J, et al. An evaluation of the sensitivity of subjects with peanut allergy to very low doses of peanut: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge study. J Allergy

ClinImmunol.1997; 100: 596-600.

50U.S. Food and Drug Administration.Approaches to establish thresholds for major food allergens and for gluten in food. 2006.

51Sampson HA. Anaphylaxis and emergency treatment. J Pediatr.2004; 111: 1601–1608.

52Clark S, Espinola J, Rudders SA, Banerji, A, Camargo CA. Frequency of US emergency department visits for food-related acute allergic reactions. J Allergy ClinImmunol. 2011; 127(3): 682-683.

53 Ellis AK, Day JH. Incidence and characteristics of biphasic anaphylaxis: a prospective evaluation of 102 patients. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.2007: 64-69.

54Korenblat P, Lundie MJ, Danker RE, Day JH. A retrospective study of epinephrine administration for anaphylaxis: how many doses are needed? Allergy Asthma Proc. 1999; 20: 383-386.

55 U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Food allergies: What you need to know. 2008. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/ffalrgn.html

56American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and American College of Allergy, Asthma and

Immunology.Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters; Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. J

Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005; 115: S483-523.

57McIntre CL, Sheetz AH, Carroll CR, Young MC. Administration of epinephrine for life-threatening allergic reactions in school settings. J Pediatr. 2005; 116(5): 1134-1140.

58 Nowak-Wegrzyn A, Conover-Walker MK, Wood RA. Food-allergic reactions in schools and preschools. Arch

Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001; 155(7): 790-795.

59Sicherer SH, Furlong TJ, DeSimone J, Sampson HA. The US peanut and tree nut allergy registry:

characteristics of reactions in schools and day care. J Pediatr. 2011: 128(4): 560-565.

60McIntre CL, Sheetz AH, Carroll CR, Young MC. Administration of epinephrine for life-threatening allergic reactions in school settings. J Pediatr.2005; 116(5): 1134-1140.

61Gold MS, Sainsbury R.First aid anaphylaxis management in children who were prescribed an epinephrine autoinjector device (EpiPen). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000; 106(1 pt 1): 171-176.

62 Sicherer, SH. Epidemiology of food allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011; 127: 594-602.

 


Posted by tammyduffy at 7:43 PM EDT
Thursday, 9 June 2016
Hamilton Township: Town of Bigots and Abandonment
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST

 

 


 

 

Hamilton Township: Town of Bigots and Abandonment

 

At the 2010 US Census, there were 88,464 people, 34,534 households, and 23,759 families residing in Hamilton township.  There were 36,170 housing units at an average density of 915.9 per square mile (353.6/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 78.38% (69,340) White, 11.78% (10,419) Black or African American, 0.17% (149) Native American, 3.29% (2,914) Asian, 0.09% (79) Pacific Islander, 4.27% (3,775) from other races, and 2.02% (1,788) from two or more races.  Hispamics or Latinos of any race were 10.87% (9,613) of the population.

 

Today, in Hamilton township there are 800 abandoned buildings and 600 abandoned homes.  The town is crumbling.

 

The leadership of Hamilton township is made up of 98% white members. The leadership and teachers who are members of the Hamilton Board of Education are only made up of 8% minority. Are we in the year 2016?  How is this possible? Why does the EEOC allow this?

 

This evening the Board of Education held a town hall meeting in Hamilton Township. The interim Superintendent talked about some of the programs they have planned for the new school year.  There were 32 members of the community in attendance not including 4 BOE members and several HTSD employees.

 

The new HR Director for the BOE did state the he has a desire to change this. He recently attended a job fair at Delaware college which was not successful for him. The HR director is white and Delaware college is primarily an African American attended college. The Hamilton BOE is just now going to implement Amistad  curriculums. The HR director said he "wants to publish ads in"minority magazines"  to advertise for teachers and leadership in the town.

 

It was noted by a resident that recently several black teachers applied for open positions in the Hamilton school district. They did not take the jobs due to the fact that the benefit package was grossly suboptimal. They took jobs within the Trenton School system instead where they have better benefit packages for teachers.

 

Starting in Septmeber the BOE will be rolling out a balanced math program similar to ELA for K-5 where students will be placed into groups based upon their ability. This will include iReady (math based learning program) which has been tested in Title I schools and they are looking to roll it out further.  There will also be four new AP Math classes introduced.

 

The BOE want to work on the large diversity gap for staff. Strong initiative by HR Director who started 3/1/16 and is the 7th HR Director over 11 years. The residents in attendance stated that they have heard this before and have little faith that this will happen.  Although the BOE leaders spoke of a compliance team that they have formed, there is little faith it will every come to fruition or actually install any change. Recently, the BOE voted to stop the video taping of their meetings. The superintendent stated this was done for several reasons. They did not want anyone running for political office to talk at the meetings. He also stated that the council meetings are not taped so why should their meetings be taped.  In addition, the superintendent commented that by taping the meetings it does not show the town in a positive light and would scare away any potential superintendent, teacher or leader to the BOE.

 

The BOE of recently been placed in a non-complaint status for their HR hiring practices as it pertains to minorities. This is a practice that has plagued not only the BOE but the entire Hamilton leadership.

 

A young black woman who recently graduated from Hamilton West shared with the leadership that the history she was taught was very "white". When Trayvon Martin was murdered and the Black Lives Matter movement began she and other students felt as if they had no save place to talk about what was going on in the world.

 

A board member said, "When we spoke to students and principals of the schools in the area they said (mind you these particular schools represented a 95% white population) were not affected by this movement or the death of Trayvon Martin. How is this possible? How can any person say they were not affected by these things?

There is a focus to have FEA Chapters in all three schools (Future Educators). The Equitable school budget will have allocations that will be based upon increase in enrollment and free/reduced lunch programs. Also all software and furniture are now paid via central budget. No more PTA fundraising for these items.

Starting in September they are purchasing Google Chrome laptops and the goal is a 2:1 student ratio. By the 2020 it will be 1:1. No more smart boards - outdated technology. A resident asked if they could rent vs purchase the computers to ensure that they have an obsolesce plan for the technology, it will surely be outdated in a year. The BOE stated that they can only purchase, they cannot rent. Yet, they rented boilers a month ago. So, they do have a way to rent items.

 

The goal is to have a permanent superintendent by 2/1/17.  They stated a survey will be placed on the district website and well publicized asking what we want in a new superintendent.

 

The group talked about lack of diversity and a need for sensitivity training for staff.  The superintendent thought it would be a good idea to implement sensitivity training.  The other attendees of the meeting were in utter shock that this does not exist today. It's a small wonder that the township has had so many lawsuits on this very topic hit them.

The real takeaway is that the residents want  and need more community involvement. It is critical that your voices be heard. What is the BOE doing with our tax dollars?

 


Posted by tammyduffy at 10:44 PM EDT
Monday, 6 June 2016
Do You Have an Appointment?
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST


 

Do You Have An Appointment?


 

 

 

 

Do You Have An Appointment?

 

 

"Do you have an appointment?", is exactly what a Hamilton resident was told today at the Police HQ when they went in to share a crime that had been committed. The resident went in to report a significant traffic issue, chemical trucks driving in their residential neighborhood.   Do you have an appointment?, is not what any resident should be told when they come to Police HQ. This goes against all the touting that the Mayor of Hamilton constantly states, "I have an open door policy."  The open door policy is as real as a blow up doll. 

 

This resident went to the front window at Hamilton Police HQ and spoke to a police officer, Badge #323 ( he did not have a name on his uniform, just the numerical badge) and told them about an issue that happened on June 3rd at 11:15am. She had photos of what happened that are time stamped.  Officer 323 instructed the resident to use the phone on the wall to talk to dispatch.

 

Just a week prior another incident happened in the neighborhood and two traffic police came and told residents to come and file a complaint at HQ if another incident of dangerous truck traffic occurred. This incident also involved numerous trucks routing themselves through the residential neighborhood.

 

This has been going on for years in the Cornell Heights area. The residents have been in contact with the Mayor's office in Hamilton, the Division of Planning and Compliance,  and other leadership in Hamilton, all efforts have been ignored. When the residents send up complaints through the HAMSTAT site, the complaints are immediately closed and they state in the closure, "issue resolved."

 

The residents clearly have gotten no resolution or relief. They have gotten broken windows, massive cracks in their foundations and walls, and DB readings that are well above acceptable limits due to the truck traffic. The leadership in Hamilton remains silent and ignorant to their requests for help.

 

When the resident spoke to the dispatcher in the lobby of Hamilton Police HQ and shared what happened they were immediately asked, "Do you have an appointment? Do you know the ordinance number for the rules on trucks driving through neighborhoods?"  The dispatcher made the resident feel like they did not matter and the fact that a chemical truck was driving through the neighborhood was ok.

 

 

The resident had the license number (see photo above) and shared that with the dispatcher and hung up the phone. Upon finalizing the phone call with dispatch,  the resident went back to the window to speak to Officer 323. They told him what just transpired, he seemed very annoyed and said," Let me take care of this, I will be right back."

 

He came back a few moments later and stated that the resident should use the phone again to speak to someone in dispatch. They did. They did not get very much further.

 

 Police officer, Tobiaz, came out to speak to the resident. He stated," There is a chemical company in the neighborhood, what is your issue?"  The resident stated, "The chemical company you make reference to is White House Chemical, a pool chemical company. They closed after the flood destroyed their business in 2012, never to reopen.  

 

At the end of the conversation, the resident decided to go to the Hamilton Health Department to speak to Jeff Plunkett.  Upon reaching the Health Department, the resident learned that Jeff was not in. Is he ever in? Maybe the resident should have gone to Fred and Pete's Deli, his favorite hang out. to meet with him. Officer 323 said another officer would come out to speak with them.

 

The township has also slated an solar field right down the street from the "chemical plant", where the flooding is even worse. There were never chemical trucks like you see here, delivering anything to them".

 

 

 

 Truck turning onto Sandalwood Ave

 


The public safety issue here is quite monumental.If that chemical truck exploded, leaked noxious chemicals, etc would the leadership remain silent? If it happened in front of Mayor Yaede's home would she remain silent?

 

The resident left the police station and went to the Hamilton health department. They spoke to several people in the Consumer and Health Division. The ladies there seemed concerned and stated they would have Jeff call.

 

The resident has yet to receive a call from the Mayor, Jeff Plunkett, the traffic division, etc.  No one is hopeful that they will get any response from the township. The traffic from heavy trucks in residential areas is causing the township millions of dollars in damages.

 

According to the ordinance, trucks shouldn’t deviate from assigned truck routes. This means 18-wheelers can’t drive in residential neighborhoods or park in their or other’s private driveway or front yard. If they do, it is against the law and the drivers need to be ticketed.

 

The Hamilton Township leadership's decision to continue to allow this to go on will only continue to cost the taxpayers in the end. It is costing more money for the township to repave or it creates pot holes. One of the streets, Sweetbriar Ave, is well on its way to become a massive sinkhole.It will also cost more innocent lives being taken. The trucks are traveling at high rates of speed, with no shoulder or sidewalks in the Cornell Heights area, residents are forced to walk in the street. Their lives are put in jeopardy each day that the leadership continues to ignore this critical situation.

These trucks are very heavy; they are coming in and out of the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are paved different compared to commercial roadways where these trucks are driven. The roads on the backstreets of Hamilton are destroyed. Does the leadership not understand what they decisions are costing taxpayers? Obviously not. What will it take for the leadership of Hamilton to acknowledge what is going on? It took several horrific accidents, deaths and a decapitation, before they put up guardrail, (that should have been installed in the first place) on one road in Cornell Heights.The residents are scared and want their public safety to be taken seriously. 

 

 

 



 


Posted by tammyduffy at 7:42 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 June 2016 8:50 PM EDT
Saturday, 4 June 2016
Sunshine Act Violations Continue With Hamilton Leadership
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST

 

 


 

 

THERE OUTTA BE A LAW

 

Sunshine Act Violations Continue With Hamilton Leadership

 

 

"On Monday, April 6, 2015 2:16 PM, "EGore@hamiltonnj.com" <EGore@hamiltonnj.com> wrote: to a resident


"Emails only began to be saved as of July 6, 2010 so those names that I applied bold to are not available since they left the township in 2008. The names that I put a question mark next to are not township personnel so again we would not have their emails. The remaining names we will search with a keyword to determine if we have any that satisfy the request ."


Sent via the Samsung GALAXY S®4, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone"

 

This above text is representative of an email from the Hamilton Township Clerk, Mercer County. This demonstrates how the township deleted all public digital records, including email. There was an OPRA request made for the data during this timeframe and the response on the OPRA request was, all files were deleted. There was no certification performed during the destruction of any of these government records.

 

The Mayor of Hamilton claims she has an open door policy. Yet, according to residents the town has anything but an open door. Their requests for help from the mayor, directors, council etc, go unanswered. Their doors are not open, they are slammed shut to residents. The residents also state that the $250,000 spent on HAMSTAT is a waste. They are glorified secretaries at HAMSTAT who take messages and attempt to connect you to departments. Why are the departments and employees of Hamilton not held accountable for doing their jobs and answering their phones? Why does the township need to spend a quarter of a million dollars to create a duplication of effort. Residents want to know the answer to these questions.

 

Public officials who wrongly deny access to open meetings and records face a broad range of consequences, although being slapped with a whopping fine or thrown out of office or into jail are rare. The lack of serious sanctions for secretive behavior leaves many access advocates throwing up their hands.

 

A recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling is evidence of a reluctance to enforce sanctions for violating open records and meetings laws. After championing the "public policy of making public records open for any person" in one breath, the court's next breath was sweetest to the state agency that unlawfully denied access to public information.

 

Missouri public officials learned a different lesson when the University of Missouri agreed to pay The Kansas City Star more than $77,000 in legal costs -- the largest known award against a state agency under the Sunshine Law. After five years of stonewalling, the university also allowed access to 10 years of internal audits. (Kansas City Star Co. v. Curators of the University of Missouri)

 

Florida is one of the few states that make the award automatic, even when officials believe they have a legitimate reason to withhold a document or keep the public out of a meeting. Jon Kaney, general counsel of the state's First Amendment Foundation, said the automatic award encourages compliance by public officers.

 

"It's simple," Kaney said. "If they don't produce the record before the requester produces a court suit, they are liable for attorney fees."

 

And if the requester does not have an attorney, the law still demands a liberal interpretation of what is recoverable. On June 11, a District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee upheld awarding a Florida prisoner the costs of postage, envelopes and copying in his quest for public information, even though such expenses are not normally recoverable. (Weeks v. Golden)

 

At least 25 states have laws that impose a criminal or civil fine for violations of open records laws with maximum fines between $100 and $1,000.

 

About seven states' statutes also authorize jail time for violations of open records and meetings laws. Potential sentences range from up to 30 days in Arkansas to a maximum of a year in Oklahoma and Florida. As an alternative to jail, Arkansas officials can be ordered to undergo training on access laws.

 

The shame and embarrassment of jail time for Hamilton officials should be enough to make them want to abide by the law. However, this is not the case. Unless residents launch ethics complaints or complaints to the GRC, these officials get away with breaking the law.  Some blatant examples of the Sunshine violations are...

·         Agenda's not posted for multiple divisions since Dec 2015

·         Minutes from Council meetings not posted since Sept 2015.

·         Environmental Commission: Only one agenda from Jan 2015 posted. No minutes.

 

How is this possible? The residents of Hamilton demand answers. There is not an open government in Hamilton. It is a government of deep dark secrets, hiding everything they can from taxpayers.

 

A recent email exchange between Hamilton resident, Joanne Bruno and Council Member Ms. Schirmer demonstrated an unacceptable response by a town leader. On May 16, 2016 Ms. Bruno reached out to Councilwoman Schirmer and asked,

 

" As President of Council, I am sure you have a good, working relationship with the Clerk, Eileen Gore.

As you may remember, I attended the "public workshops" held by Council in April 2016.  After the first meeting I realized it was difficult to follow the meeting without having a copy of the line-item budget.  I spoke to Eileen Gore to get a copy.  She said I could not have a copy and could not OPRA it either explaining it was a "working" document.  I let it go for a while and then decided I really wanted to make sense of my notes and could do so even better with that copy.  I did OPRA a copy.

In the meantime, as she explained to me recently, she had asked someone about the line-item budget distribution to the public and was told to post it on the township web site.  Naturally, I did not know this prior to sending an OPRA request.  I received my certified receipt stamped May 3 and waited for a response.  At that time I did not realize Eileen had Ms. Sabo respond and must have erased the email Ms. Sabo sent me on the 3rd as I was looking for Gore, not Sabo.  I get, as you probably do as well, thousands of emails. I just scan and if I don't recognize the name...delete.

Last week I found out where the line-item budget was located on the web site and now it is fine.  Why this lack of correct(ed) information and hesitation?

Now, there is still one other problem.  Back in September I wanted to look at something on the July minutes.  When I went to the web site, the minutes were only posted to March 2015.  I contacted Eileen requesting information on why there were no minutes posted and could I get the July minutes.  Eileen spoke to me about the minutes (at a Council meeting) telling me there is a disabled person (blind) who is transcribing the minutes and it takes him/her a long time to do so.  I waited for the July minutes to appear.

As I look today, wanting to see the minutes from two weeks ago, the minutes are only posted to September of 2015.  I am sure I don't have to tell you, as Council President, that the date is May 2016.  We are still months behind when minutes should be read and approved at each meeting from the "prior" meeting of the same month and year!  When, if ever, do you think this problem will be corrected?

Sorry, but I have one more request.  I also looked for the minutes for both Zoning and Planning Boards.  I know you are the Council Liaison for the Planning Board.  Can you please tell me why NONE (except February 25) of the minutes for this year are posted for public view?  Zoning only has the month of January 2016 minutes posted.  I notice the Board Secretary for both is the same person.  Is there something wrong with the Secretary or he/she just behind on the work?  Again, I thought minutes have to be read and approved from one meeting to the next...not with months in between.  I am just curious about what is going on.

Thank you for reading this email and for your anticipated response that will inform me of the issues we seem to be having with meeting minutes being timely and requests for information being given without asking continually.  I hope you can get to the bottom of it and hopefully it will get fixed."

On June 1, 2016, Ms. Bruno reached out again the councilwoman due to the fact she received no response. Later that day, the councilwoman did respond. Councilwoman Schirmer said,

 

" Not all minutes are on-line as fast as you would like them to be simply because our Clerk's department is responsible for many things and do not always have the ability to get the minutes up on time after our council meetings.  The minutes that are posted are just summaries of the meetings.  You can always OPRA an audio if you would like."

 

OPRA them? The leadership is required by law to post the agenda's, to post the minutes.  Why should residents have to go through the OPRA process? One resident OPRA'd an audio of a Economic development meeting and was told, "Sorry the secretary at the meeting forgot to turn the tape on." How convenient, this exact tape demonstrated Councilwoman Schirmer making disparaging remarks about the BOE in Hamilton. Another resident OPRA's information on a gun range that was built in a residential neighborhood (only for Hamilton police), because all the sudden they were hearing gun fire, and the township responded with, "there is no gun range."  It was not until the resident filed a complaint with the GRC did they get the information.

The response of Councilwoman Schirmer is unacceptable.  "Not all minutes are put up as fast you would like?" It should not take 10 months to post minutes or agendas Councilwoman Schirmer. It's no wonder Hamilton is in the shape its in with leadership performing in such a manner. To have such a complacent attitude about the law and her responsibility as a member of council, should airlift her out of her council seat and the 4 year term seat she wants as a member of Mercer County's Committee.

 

Ms. Bruno did not end her discussion there. She pushed back on Councilwoman Schirmer's response and is holding her accountable.  She asked Councilwoman Schirmer,

"It is my suggestion that as part of Ms. Gore's role as clerk she should be paying better attention to the posting of the minutes as they are an official record of the council meetings.  I think you will agree that 10 months is a long time.  A time period should be set when minutes can be prepared and posted, i.e. within 6 - 8 weeks.  It is not reasonable to offer residents an option of getting an audio of the minutes when they are 10 months behind and are accessible by the web page or should be.

Also, what is the problem with the Planning and Zoning Boards posting their minutes? 

The township officials are breaking the law. Why are they able to break the law and not be held accountable? This is a question for the GCR and the Attorney General's office of NJ.  On June 7th you can make your decision on whether or not Councilwoman Schirmer deserves a seat on the county committee. Let your voices be heard.

 

 

 

Source:

 

 

SUNSHINE ACT

 

 

THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SUNSHINE ACT

 

5 U.S.C. § 552b

 

§ 552b. Open meetings

 

(a) For purposes of this section-(

1) the term "agency" means any agency, as defined in section 552(f) of this title, headed by a

collegial body composed of two or more individual members, a majority of whom are appointed to

such position by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and any subdivision

thereof authorized to act on behalf of the agency;

(2) the term "meeting" means the deliberations of at least the number of individual agency

members required to take action on behalf of the agency where such deliberations determine or

result in the joint conduct or disposition of official agency business, but does not include deliberations

required or permitted by subsection (d) or (e); and

(3) the term "member" means an individual who belongs to a collegial body heading an agency.

(b) Members shall not jointly conduct or dispose of agency business other than in accordance with this

section. Except as provided in subsection (c), every portion of every meeting of an agency shall be open to

public observation.

(c) Except in a case where the agency finds that the public interest requires otherwise, the second sentence

of subsection (b) shall not apply to any portion of an agency meeting, and the requirements of subsections

(d) and (e) shall not apply to any information pertaining to such meeting otherwise required by

this section to be disclosed to the public, where the agency properly determines that such portion or

portions of its meeting or the disclosure of such information is likely to-(

1) disclose matters that are (A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive

order to be kept secret in the interests of national defense or foreign policy and (B) in fact properly

classified pursuant to such Executive order;

(2) relate solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;

(3) disclose matters specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than section 552 of this

title), provided that such statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such

a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding

or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;

(4) disclose trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and

privileged or confidential;

(5) involve accusing any person of a crime, or formally censuring any person;

(6) disclose information of a personal nature where disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted

invasion of personal privacy;

(7) disclose investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes, or information which if

written would be contained in such records, but only to the extent that the production of such

records or information would (A) interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) deprive a person of a

right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal

privacy, (D) disclose the identity of a confidential source and, in the case of a record compiled by a

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criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation, or by an agency

conducting a lawful national security intelligence investigation, confidential information furnished

only by the confidential source, (E) disclose investigative techniques and procedures, or (F) endanger

the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel;

 

(8) disclose information contained in or related to examination, operating or condition reports

prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of

financial institutions;

(9) disclose information the premature disclosure of which would-(

A) in the case of an agency which regulates currencies, securities, commodities, or

financial institutions, be likely to (i) lead to significant financial speculation in currencies,

securities, or commodities, or (ii) significantly endanger the stability of any financial

institution; or

(B) in the case of any agency, be likely to significantly frustrate implementation of a

proposed agency action.

except that subparagraph (B) shall not apply in any instance where the agency has already disclosed

to the public the content or nature of its proposed action, or where the agency is required by

law to make such disclosure on its own initiative prior to taking final agency action on such

proposal; or

 

(10) specifically concern the agency's issuance of a subpoena, or the agency's participation in a

civil action or proceeding, an action in a foreign court or international tribunal, or an arbitration,

or the initiation, conduct, or disposition by the agency of a particular case of formal agency

adjudication pursuant to the procedures in section 554 of this title or otherwise involving a

determination on the record after opportunity for a hearing.

(d)(1) Action under subsection (c) shall be taken only when a majority of the entire membership of the

agency (as defined in subsection (a)(1)) votes to take such action. A separate vote of the agency members

shall be taken with respect to each agency meeting a portion or portions of which are proposed to be closed

to the public pursuant to subsection (c), or with respect to any information which is proposed to be withheld

under subsection (c). A single vote may be taken with respect to a series of meetings, a portion or

portions of which are proposed to be closed to the public, or with respect to any information concerning

such series of meetings, so long as each meeting in such series involves the same particular matters and is

scheduled to be held no more than thirty days after the initial meeting in such series. The vote of each

agency member participating in such vote shall be recorded and no proxies shall be allowed.

 

(2) Whenever any person whose interests may be directly affected by a portion of a meeting

requests that the agency close such portion to the public for any of the reasons referred to in

paragraph (5), (6), or (7) of subsection (c), the agency, upon request of any one of its members,

shall vote by recorded vote whether to close such meeting.

(3) Within one day of any vote taken pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2), the agency shall make

publicly available a written copy of such vote reflecting the vote of each member on the question.

If a portion of a meeting is to be closed to the public, the agency shall, within one day of the vote

taken pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection, make publicly available a full written

explanation of its action closing the portion together with a list of all persons expected to attend

the meeting and their affiliation.

(4) Any agency, a majority of whose meetings may properly be closed to the public pursuant to

paragraph (4), (8), (9)(A), or (10) of subsection (c), or any combination thereof, may provide by

regulation for the closing of such meetings or portions thereof in the event that a majority of the

members of the agency votes by recorded vote at the beginning of such meeting, or portion thereof,

to close the exempt portion or portions of the meeting, and a copy of such vote, reflecting the vote

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of each member on the question, is made available to the public. The provisions of paragraphs (1),

(2), and (3) of this subsection and subsection (e) shall not apply to any portion of a meeting to

which such regulations apply: Provided, That the agency shall, except to the extent that such

information is exempt from disclosure under the provisions of subsection (c), provide the public

with public announcement of the time, place, and subject matter of the meeting and of each

portion thereof at the earliest practicable time.

 

(e)(1) In the case of each meeting, the agency shall make public announcement, at least one week before

the meeting, of the time, place, and subject matter of the meeting, whether it is to be open or closed to the

public, and the name and phone number of the official designated by the agency to respond to requests for

information about the meeting. Such announcement shall be made unless a majority of the members of

the agency determines by a recorded vote that agency business requires that such meeting be called at an

earlier date, in which case the agency shall make public announcement of the time, place, and subject

matter of such meeting, and whether open or closed to the public, at the earliest practicable time.

 

(2) The time or place of a meeting may be changed following the public announcement required

by paragraph (1) only if the agency publicly announces such change at the earliest practicable time.

The subject matter of a meeting, or the determination of the agency to open or close a meeting, or

portion of a meeting, to the public, may be changed following the public announcement required

by this subsection only if (A) a majority of the entire membership of the agency determines by a

recorded vote that agency business so requires and that no earlier announcement of the change

was possible, and (B) the agency publicly announces such change and the vote of each member

upon such change at the earliest practicable time.

(3) Immediately following each public announcement required by this subsection, notice of the

time, place, and subject matter of a meeting, whether the meeting is open or closed, any change in

one of the preceding, and the name and phone number of the official designated by the agency to

respond to requests for information about the meeting, shall also be submitted for publication in

the Federal Register.

(f)(1) For every meeting closed pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (10) of subsection (c), the General

Counsel or chief legal officer of the agency shall publicly certify that, in his or her opinion, the meeting

may be closed to the public and shall state each relevant exemptive provision. A copy of such certification,

together with a statement from the presiding officer of the meeting setting forth the time and place of

the meeting, and the persons present, shall be retained by the agency. The agency shall maintain a

complete transcript or electronic recording adequate to record fully the proceedings of each meeting, or

portion of a meeting, closed to the public, except that in the case of a meeting, or portion of a meeting,

closed to the public pursuant to paragraph (8), (9)(A), or (10) of subsection (c), the agency shall maintain

either such a transcript or recording, or a set of minutes. Such minutes shall fully and clearly describe all

matters discussed and shall provide a full and accurate summary of any actions taken, and the reasons

therefor, including a description of each of the views expressed on any item and the record of any rollcall

vote (reflecting the vote of each member on the question). All documents considered in connection with

any action shall be identified in such minutes.

 

(2) The agency shall make promptly available to the public, in a place easily accessible to the

public, the transcript, electronic recording, or minutes (as required by paragraph (1)) of the

discussion of any item on the agenda, or of any item of the testimony of any witness received at the

meeting, except for such item or items of such discussion or testimony as the agency determines to

contain information which may be withheld under subsection (c). Copies of such transcript, or

minutes, or a transcription of such recording disclosing the identity of each speaker, shall be furnished

to any person at the actual cost of duplication or transcription. The agency shall maintain a

complete verbatim copy of the transcript, a complete copy of the minutes, or a complete electronic

recording of each meeting, or portion of a meeting, closed to the public, for a period of at least two

years after such meeting, or until one year after the conclusion of any agency proceeding with

respect to which the meeting or portion was held, whichever occurs later.

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(g) Each agency subject to the requirements of this section shall, within 180 days after the date of

enactment of this section, following consultation with the Office of the Chairman of the Administrative

Conference of the United States and published notice in the Federal Register of at least thirty days and

opportunity for written comment by any person, promulgate regulations to implement the requirements of

subsections (b) through (f) of this section. Any person may bring a proceeding in the United States

District Court for the District of Columbia to require an agency to promulgate such regulations if such

agency has not promulgated such regulations within the time period specified herein. Subject to any

limitations of time provided by law, any person may bring a proceeding in the United States Court of

Appeals for the District of Columbia to set aside agency regulations issued pursuant to this subsection that

are not in accord with the requirements of subsections (b) through (f) of this section and to require the

promulgation of regulations that are in accord with such subsections.

(h)(1) The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction to enforce the requirements of

subsections (b) through (f) of this section by declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, or other relief as may

be appropriate. Such actions may be brought by any person against an agency prior to, or within sixty days

after, the meeting out of which the violation of this section arises, except that if public announcement of

such meeting is not initially provided by the agency in accordance with the requirements of this section,

such action may be instituted pursuant to this section at any time prior to sixty days after any public

announcement of such meeting. Such actions may be brought in the district court of the United States for

the district in which the agency meeting is held or in which the agency in question has its headquarters, or

in the District Court for the District of Columbia. In such actions a defendant shall serve his answer

within thirty days after the service of the complaint. The burden is on the defendant to sustain his action.

In deciding such cases the court may examine in camera any portion of the transcript, electronic recording,

or minutes of a meeting closed to the public, and may take such additional evidence as it deems

necessary. The court, having due regard for orderly administration and the public interest, as well as the

interests of the parties, may grant such equitable relief as it deems appropriate, including granting an

injunction against future violations of this section or ordering the agency to make available to the public

such portion of the transcript, recording or minutes of a meeting as is not authorized to be withheld under

subsection (c) of this section.

 

(2) Any Federal court otherwise authorized by law to review agency action may, at the application

of any person properly participating in the proceeding pursuant to other applicable law, inquire into

violations by the agency of the requirements of this section and afford such relief as it deems

appropriate. Nothing in this section authorizes any Federal court having jurisdiction solely on the

basis of paragraph (1) to set aside, enjoin, or invalidate any agency action (other than an action to

close a meeting or to withhold information under this section) taken or discussed at any agency

meeting out of which the violation of this section arose.

(i) The court may assess against any party reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs reasonably

incurred by any other party who substantially prevails in any action brought in accordance with the

provisions of subsection (g) or (h) of this section, except that costs may be assessed against the plaintiff

only where the court finds that the suit was initiated by the plaintiff primarily for frivolous or dilatory

purposes. In the case of assessment of costs against an agency, the costs may be assessed by the court

against the United States.

(j) Each agency subject to the requirements of this section shall annually report to the Congress regarding

the following:

(1) The changes in the policies and procedures of the agency under this section that have

occurred during the preceding 1-year period.

(2) A tabulation of the number of meetings held, the exemptions applied to close meetings, and

the days of public notice provided to close meetings.

(3) A brief description of litigation or formal complaints concerning the implementation of this

section by the agency.

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(4) A brief explanation of any changes in law that have affected the responsibilities of the agency

under this section.

(k) Nothing herein expands or limits the present rights of any person under section 552 of this title,

except that the exemptions set forth in subsection (c) of this section shall govern in the case of any request

made pursuant to section 552 to copy or inspect the transcripts, recordings, or minutes described in

subsection (f) of this section. The requirements of chapter 33 of Title 44, United States Code, shall not

apply to the transcripts, recordings, and minutes described in subsection (f) of this section.

(l) This section does not constitute authority to withhold any information from Congress, and does not

authorize the closing of any agency meeting or portion thereof required by any other provision of law to be

open.

(m) Nothing in this section authorizes any agency to withhold from any individual any record, including

transcripts, recordings, or minutes required by this section, which is otherwise accessible to such individual

under section 552a of this title.

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Posted by tammyduffy at 9:19 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 4 June 2016 6:54 PM EDT
Friday, 3 June 2016
The Many Meanings of Home
Topic: ART NEWS

 


 

 The Many Meanings of Home

 

Tucked away, inside a rather nondescript building in Lawrenceville, some truly beautiful and empowering art is being created.
Small groups of adults comb through fabrics, searching for just the right swatch to capture their feelings. Others are hunched over whirring sewing machines, stitching together pillows or wall hangings. This mix of homeless women and volunteers are exploring what home means to them on a very personal level through a sewing workshop, part of a series of programs created by the Hunterdon Art Museum and HomeFront’s ArtSpace.


Surrounded by this buzz of activity, Hunterdon Art Museum teacher Wendy Hallstrom and Ruthann Traylor, the director of ArtSpace, discuss the power of art.


“There are so many negatives one has to deal with when experiencing poverty and homelessness,” Traylor said. “There’s not a lot of time for joy. But that’s what ArtSpace allows others to do – to experience that joy, to heal and to feel good about themselves.”
About 100 children and adults participated in the series of workshops that covered a variety of media: painting, sculpting, poetry, sewing and more. Art created from this healing program will be featured in an exhibition at the Museum that runs from June 11 until Sept. 4.
“Everyone communicates differently,” Hallstrom, who is managing the workshops for the Museum, said. “Some people are good with words so we had a poetry session. Others are better at expressing themselves by working with their hands; others maybe by talking. So, the program offers a variety of avenues for adults and children to deal with their emotions at a difficult point in their lives.”
“HomeFront and the Hunterdon Art Museum firmly believe that art plays a vital role in increasing confidence and a positive sense of identity,” said Jennifer Brazel, education director of the Museum. “It teaches simple, age-appropriate skills and nurtures creative thinking and problem solving. And the program also teaches entrepreneurial skills and opportunities for the clients/artists who can sell what they create through ArtSpace’s resources.”


Sometimes those struggling to escape poverty fail to see the value in the work they do. A woman recently visited SewingSpace and for the first time made a drawing and then painted it. The painting was a simple, yet stunning, vase with flowers. When finished, she left it on a table, apparently indifferent to her work.


Traylor found a gorgeous gold frame and placed the painting on an easel. When the woman later returned, she walked past the work, and at first didn’t recognize it as her own. She was astonished when Traylor asked if it could be included in an upcoming art sale.
“I think sometimes when you have so little money you can’t make ends meet feel like you’re valued less,” Traylor said. “And this woman didn’t value the painting she did. . . This program helps break down the barriers of class and race. So someone will see themselves not as a homeless person, but as an artist.”


The exhibition, Meanings of Home, includes paintings, ceramics and photography. Students created a booth that resembled a home and took family portraits. The photos will be displayed and the booth will be installed as part of the exhibition; anyone visiting the show can also take photos in it.


The workshops and exhibitions are funded through a generous grant by the Bunbury Foundation.


For the past decade, ArtSpace has encouraged creativity and self-expression through art therapy in a safe and nurturing environment with the goal of rebuilding the souls of those suffering from poverty, homelessness and family abuse. ArtSpace is run by HomeFront, a Mercer County-based organization that seeks to both lessen the immediate pain of homelessness and to help families become more self-sufficient by giving them the skills and opportunities to ensure adequate income.


In addition to the Lawrenceville location, HomeFront has a Family Campus in Ewing that houses up to 40 families. Through HomeFront’s Resource Network, donations of clothing, furniture and small household items are accepted; its FoodPantry provides a week’s worth of free groceries to low-income families who need them. Learn more by visiting www.homefrontnj.org.


The show’s opening reception is Saturday, June 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Museum, 7 Lower Center St. in Clinton. You can learn more about the nonprofit Museum and this exhibition by visiting www.hunterdonartmuseum.org.

 


Posted by tammyduffy at 8:29 PM EDT
Friday, 27 May 2016
Giving With Purpose: A Real Life Lesson Taught By Warren and Doris Buffet
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST

 


 

Giving With Purpose: A Real Life Lesson Taught By Warren and Doris Buffet

 


 

Thank you to Warren and Doris for your valuable guidance!

 

The name Buffett is frequently in the news, but the first name is Doris, not Warren. His older sister by three years pursued a decade-long interest by creating and sponsoring a  free, online course about philanthropy. This course was launched a few years ago.  It has now expanded to a full college degree course in Philanthropy in conjunction with Northwestern University.

 

The goal of the program, called Giving With Purpose is to teach college students — and anyone else who cares to register — how to beneficially contribute to charity. That’s not necessarily easy. There are IRS rules for giving that must be learned, and there is wayward, wasteful philanthropy to be avoided.

 

But for registrants who apply themselves well in this new course, the prize at the end is real Buffett money to give away.

 

Doris Buffett got to this stage of philanthropy by starting with small donations about 10 years ago in North Carolina, where she then lived. (Today she is a resident of Virginia). Her usual practice in those days was to aid local people who had run into bad luck — a sudden illness, for example, or even a broken-down car — and needed a few thousand dollars just to struggle along.

 

Her gifts earned her the name “Sunshine Lady,” and that led her to set up the Sunshine Lady Foundation.

 

When Warren Buffett announced in 2006 that he would begin giving his vast fortune to charity (and again, in 2010, when he joined with Melinda and Bill Gates to form the Giving, Pledge), he was inundated with letters from people asking for help. He responded by sending the pleas along to Doris, the acknowledged philanthropy expert in the Buffett family, and by also promising her money for deserving letter-writers when she needed it. Recalling those days, she remembers that the original shipment from Warren included 410 letters.

 

Doris thereafter applied some skills she’d learned while working years earlier in a district attorney’s office to sort out the letters between deserving and not. A small army of unpaid women — called Sunbeams — helped her in this job.

 

Gradually Doris broadened her giving, and the once small Sunshine Lady Foundation grew into a large force. Over the last four years, its contributions (some of the money from Warren, but most from her) have averaged $10 million annually.

 

The foundation still gives money to ordinary people down on their luck, but Doris has also added some special projects: educating prisoners in such places as Sing Sing, sending battered women to college, and also giving college scholarships to North Carolinians generally.

 

The foundation’s scholarships have some strings attached to them. Besides requiring a recipient to maintain a 3.0 grade average, they also compel the student to pledge (in a written contract) that he or she will not engage in body piercing (except ears); tattooing; the use of illegal substances, alcohol, or tobacco; carrying a credit card; and sustaining an unhealthy body weight. Says Doris, “That’s the grandma in me coming out.”

 

Another project that the foundation added — this is the forerunner of today’s online course — was sponsoring college courses about philanthropy, in which students actively investigated local causes to determine which deserved Sunshine Lady grants ranging up to a per-college total of $10,000. Among the 30 or so participants in the course have been University of North Carolina, University of Nebraska, and Georgetown.

 

The new online course lasts for six weeks and provides people over the age of 18 a chance to give away money, upon their intelligently vetting one or more local charitable causes. Doris Buffett and a second foundation she started in 2011, Learning By Giving — which she funded with $5 million — will oversee this work and distribute the contributions. The technology this program needs has meanwhile been supplied by Google, whose “course builder”  enables the construction of a MOOC, which stands for Massive Open Online Course.

 

Two younger Buffetts are closely involved with the new online program. Doris’s grandson, Alex Buffett Rozek, 34, who manages a small Boston investment partnership, is president of the Learning by Giving foundation; Warren’s grandson, Howard Warren Buffett, 28.  Rozek has served as a director of the Sunshine Lady Foundation, and the younger Buffett has worked with his father, Howard Graham Buffett, on the latter’s eponymous foundation.

 

The six-week course covers all of the steps that a student requires to make informed judgments about giving away money — for example, what impact does a charitable organization have on its community and what will be the impact of your money on the organization? But guest speakers having a hands-on knowledge of philanthropy will also make video appearances — among them baseball’s Cal Ripken Jr. and ice cream’s Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

 

The first of these speakers, in the opening week of the course, are Doris and Warren Buffett, who jointly discuss their philanthropic experiences — Doris white-haired and striking, Warren looking his usual avuncular self. Doris notes that she’s businesslike in her giving but has experienced “incredible joy” in carrying it out. Warren nods understandingly, adding that “helping people achieve their potential is about as good as it gets.” And as the video rolls, they peremptorily interrupt each other, just as if they kids back in Omaha.

 

Taking this course taught me value lessons in philanthropy.  It opened my eyes on how to evaluate a non profit and asses where I should put dollars to support a non profit.

 

This story will teach you a valuable lesson. A lesson on where not to put your money. A non profit can have a wonderful mission statement. However, if the people running the non profit do not have the best interest of their supports on the forefront, they will eventually no longer exist as a non profit.

 

KaBOOM!, Inc. is a national non‑profit dedicated to giving all kids the childhood they deserve, filled with balanced and active play so they can thrive. To achieve this, KaBOOM! creates great places to play, inspires communities to promote and support
play, and works to drive the national discussion around the importance of play in fostering healthy lives.



In addition to continuing to create playspaces, KaBOOM! undertakes initiatives to spark behavior and societal‑norm change around play. Behavior change means that all kids have regular opportunities for more play. Societal‑norm change means that our culture will reinforce the expectation that all kids get the balanced and active play they need every day. Delivering on both requires that we deploy an influence strategy, because studies indicate that while parents, caregivers, and community leaders are aware play is important, this awareness does not always translate into understanding, responsibility, and action.

 

Kids today are playing less than any previous generation, and as playtime goes down, the issues facing our kids go up. The Stanford University School of Medicine reports that kids are spending less time playing outdoors than any previous generation. Recent studies have found that recess offers nearly half of the chances kids get to be physically active
during the school year (42%), but recess is increasingly absent from the school day.

In neighborhoods without a park or playground, the incidence of childhood obesity increases 29%. Kids with a park or playground within a half-mile are almost five times more likely to be a healthy weight than kids without playgrounds or parks nearby. Nearly one in three kids in America is overweight or obese, setting them up for a lifetime of health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. But there is a reason to be hopeful: the promise of play and kid-friendly communities.

 

KaBOOM has contracted Program Services & Grants totaling $25,391,106. Their CEO is paid a total of $434,365 a year.

 

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/521/970/2014-521970904-0b753b98-9.pdf

 

KaBOOM! recently announced the 2016 Playful City USA communities. This year, 257 communities are getting recognition for making it easy for all kids to get balanced and active play in their neighborhoods and for pledging to integrate play as a solution to the challenges facing their communities.

 

In its 10th year, Playful City USA is a national recognition program that honors cities and towns for taking bold steps to create more play opportunities for all kids. It was quite shocking to learn that Hamilton, NJ, Mercer County again this year was given this designation by the Ka BOOM organization.

 

In September 2015, Duffy's Cultural Couture reported on a non profit embarrassment.  In July of this year, Hamilton Township was awarded a designation, Playful City by the Playful City USA program. The program is sponsored by the Humana Foundation in partnership with Kaboom (a nonprofit focused on children and play).

 

This designation has now become a source of embarrassment for the Humana Foundation and Kaboom. As we are all aware as reported in the media, 15 of the 17 school playgrounds  in Hamilton, Mercer county, since the beginning of the school year, have been shuttered due to massive safety issues. When the Foundation and Kaboom learned of this issue they were stunned. In the 10 year history of the Playful City program this has never happened. They have never ran into an issue where they gave an award to a town, only to learn that they clearly were not living up to the criteria for the award.

 

Virginia Judd, Executive Director of the Humana Foundation stated that they were shocked to learn of this information as it pertains to the playgrounds in Hamilton. The same shock was apparent to Sara Pinksey, Executive Director of Kaboom's Playful City Program.They were both at a lost for words and process on what to do with this issue. If they had the process, they would most likely revoke this years award to Hamilton. 

 

Over the past 7 years Hamilton has been awarded this designation of Playful City. The Human Foundation and Kaboom quickly reviewed their records to ensure that they had not awarded any grant moneys to Hamilton this past year or ever. To have done that would have only intensified the embarrassment to the foundation. To their relief they had not awarded any grant money this year or in the past to the town of Hamilton, only the designation.

 

The designation of most Playful City gives towns the opportunity to compete for grants that are sponsored by the Humana Foundation win partnership with Kaboom. Hamilton will not be able to participate in grants moving forward due to the recent debacle that is occurring at the playgrounds in Hamilton. The likelihood that they will ever be awarded this Playful City designation ever again is also unlikely. 

Well, the same thing happened again this year. Kaboom gave the township of Hamilton the award, most playful city. You will see the email exchanged below from the organizations and our team.

 

 

 

 

To: "info@kaboom.org" <info@kaboom.org>; "humanafoundation@humana.com" <humanafoundation@humana.com>
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 8:17 PM
Subject: Questionable designation given to town

 

 Virginia Judd and Sara Pinksey,

 

Ladies, we spoke last year.

 

In July of 2015 year, Hamilton Township was awarded a designation, Playful City by the Playful City USA program. The program is sponsored by the Humana Foundation in partnership with Kaboom (a nonprofit focused on children and play).

 

This designation became a source of embarrassment for the Humana Foundation and Kaboom. As we are all aware as reported in the media, 15 of the 17 school playgrounds  in Hamilton, Mercer county, since the beginning of the school year, have been shuttered due to massive safety issues. They are still ALL closed to date as well as many of the parks in the town were play equipment were also condemned this past year. 

 

When I called you both last year and spoke to you, you seemed stunned that the designation was given to Hamilton with what was going on. You stated to me in the 10 year history of the Playful City program this has never happened. They have never ran into an issue where they gave an award to a town, only to learn that they clearly were not living up to the criteria for the award.

 

Virginia Judd, you stated that you were shocked to learn of this information as it pertains to the playgrounds in Hamilton. The same shock was apparent to Sara Pinksey, Executive Director of Kaboom's Playful City Program.You were both at a lost for words and process on what to do with this issue. If they had the process, they would most likely revoke this years award to Hamilton. 

 

Over the past 7 years Hamilton has been awarded this designation of Playful City. The Human Foundation and Kaboom quickly reviewed their records to ensure that they had not awarded any grant moneys to Hamilton this past year or ever. To have done that would have only intensified the embarrassment to the foundation. To their relief they had not awarded any grant money this year or in the past to the town of Hamilton, only the designation.

 

The designation of most Playful City gives towns the opportunity to compete for grants that are sponsored by the Humana Foundation win partnership with Kaboom. Hamilton will not be able to participate in grants moving forward due to the recent debacle that is occurring at the playgrounds in Hamilton. The likelihood that they will ever be awarded this Playful City designation ever again is also unlikely. 

 

Imagine my utter shock when I received this link below today......where your organization gave Hamilton the designation again. All of the issues still exist and I was wondering if you would like to comment on this?



http://hamiltonnj.com/news/?FeedID=1555

 

Ladies,

 

One more item. In the townships own budget they have listed the "critical status" of EVERY park. See below and attached (page 96)



I look forward to your response



 

On Thu, May 26, 2016 at 12:15 PM, Myeta Moon

<MMoon@kaboom.org> wrote:

Dr. Duffy,

 

We appreciate you reaching out regarding the 2016 Playful City USA designation given to Hamilton Township. We are focused on ensuring all kids have access to safe places to play, so we are taking the current situation in Hamilton Township very seriously.

 

We award cities and towns with the Playful City USA recognition that demonstrate a clear commitment to increasing access to playspaces, especially for kids that need them the most. Hamilton Township is working to build new playgrounds and playspaces within lower income neighborhoods with Community Development Block Grant funding, build new play structures at neighborhood parks and renovate existing playgrounds with new equipment, while removing obsolete or noncompliant equipment. There is also a goal in the Township’s Parks Master Plan to provide parks with recreation facilities within walking distance of residential neighborhoods. We recognize Hamilton for these are great strides, however we understand that with the closing of the School District’s playgrounds, there is still a lot of work to be done.

 

After hearing of your concern,  I reached out to the Township to get a status update on the playgrounds as they play an important role in the community’s overall efforts to provide play opportunities for kids in the area.  They informed me that they are actively assisting in efforts to reopen playgrounds, according to the School District’s requested schedule. They also recommend that you contact the School District at 609.631.4100  We encourage you to reach out to the School District – our collective efforts can show the Township that the playground closings are a serious issue that needs to be addressed. I’d also like to connect you to Sherika Brooks, Manager of Sustained Impact with KaBOOM!. Sherika works with advocates from around the country to engage their cities in increasing play opportunities.  She can connect you to other  play advocates so you can join efforts to increase pressure on Hamilton Township’s government so that they will follow through on their plans to reopen the playgrounds. Sherika is copied on this email.

 

Thank you for your dedication to this issue in Hamilton. We share your commitment to improving the lives of kids through play, and we look forward to you joining us in continued efforts to help ensure kids get the balanced and active play they need to thrive.

 

 

Best,

 

Myeta

 

Myeta M. Moon, Director, City Initiatives

(O) 202-464-6083

 

More correspondance...

 

Virginia Judd <vkjudd@humana.com> May 26 at 3:24 PM

CC

mmoon@kaboom.org

Sarah Pinsky

Lindsay Adeyiga

 

 

 

Dear Dr. Duffy, 

We appreciate you reaching out regarding the 2016 Playful City USA designation given to Hamilton Township. Like you, we believe strongly that all kids deserve access to safe places to play. Our friends at KaBOOM! have assured us that they are looking into the situation in Hamilton further, and will be in touch soon, if they haven’t contacted you already. 

Our team worked closely with KaBOOM! during a wonderful four-year partnership (2012-2015) building more than 50 playgrounds and multiple community gardens across the country. During this period we also sponsored the Playful City USA program. While the Humana Foundation’s partnership with KaBOOM! completed in 2015, we remain confident in KaBOOM!’s leadership and effectiveness to execute their important, mission-driven work.  

If you have any ongoing or future concerns, feel free to reach out to KaBOOM! directly.  

 Thank you for your dedication to this issue in Hamilton. We share your commitment to improving the lives of kids through play.

 

Sincerely,

Virginia Judd

 

Virginia K. Judd

Executive Director

FROM DCC

 

Final correspondence

 

Ladies,

 

Thank you for your response. I found it equally as disturbing as the announcement that Hamilton made that you gave them the designation again.

 

As someone who donates many dollars to non profits, I find your approach radically disturbing.  This is like saying, " I will give you a diploma for your college degree and as long as you say that you will go to class or walk the halls during the four years. This is what you did and what your response to me says.

 

There is zero due diligence evident it would appear, done by your team to assess who gets these designations. These designations allow organizations or towns to compete for grants. Anyone can send a unicorn and rainbow grant submission, its your responsibility to review it and ensure that ALL dollars that are given by donors are not wasted.

 

If you did any due diligence at all, this designation would/should have never been given to Hamilton. The township gave you lip service and you bought it. I would suggest you use the tool called Google, to search on what is going on in Hamilton or any other town you give this designation to.

 

There is NO final plan to get the playgrounds open in the schools in hamilton. The school year will end and the playgrounds will still be closed in Hamilton at the schools.  I am well aware of what is going on with the schools.

 

The township leadership had ownership of the playgrounds, until recently. They did nothing to ensure the playgrounds were safe.  They then dumped it on the schools recently and are taking no ownership for their years of neglect. There is a massive lawsuit that was launched at the township for their suboptimal behavior on these parks.  There is no money to replace the condemned playgrounds. There are drugs being dealt at the playgrounds. People are finding used heroin needles in the parks. Is this the place that you gave this award to? This is beyond outrageous. The municpal parks were also hit with this same closure of the playground equipment.

 

Also, after the Easter holiday the schools and township installed tractor trailers on the pavement (on the only space that existed for the kids to play on being the playgrounds are still closed) to act as temporary boilers at several of the schools.  The townships due diligence on the vendor they selected was radically suboptimal, that two days into this portable boiler solution, the boiler caught fire. Imagine if that happen when the kids were on the pavement. Prior to the kids coming back to school from Easter break there were letters sent to the parents to warn them of these new trailer boiler systems.

 

Warren Buffet and his sister Doris developed a course on how non profits should behave and attract investors. This behavior that your organization demonstrates is exactly the opposite of what is acceptable to any savvy investor.  I would suggest you use the tool "google" to research how to take the course that the Buffet's developed to optimize your approach. It is a free course and could teach your organizations the right way. As an investor in non profits I would never give you money with your suboptimal approaches that exist today.

 

As a member of the society in Hamilton, half of my taxes goes to the schools. It is utterly despicable how the township leadership has wasted our tax dollars and put the children in the township in harms way with their lack of leadership. They spent $500,000 on a private gun range that was built on wetlands. I would rather they spend money on our children vs. a gun range.

 

KABOOM....you gave them an award for their despicable behavior. http://www.hamiltonnj.com/filestorage/228428/229551/229558/Adopted_Master_Plan.pdf  Is a link to the master plan in Hamilton.   As a marathon runner, I will not use a vast majority of the Hamilton parks. There have been numerous rapes, murders, suicides and aggravated assaults in the parks. (google those articles) . There is nothing in this plan that talks about what they are doing nor the comment they made to you on the community development.

 

I can only hope you view this as a learning experience and use better judgment in future designations given to towns. There are many other towns that do not have this despicable drama that Hamilton does and are more deserving of the designations to compete for the grants. It would be a consider shame.

 

 

Dr. Tammy Anne Duffy
Email:tammy.duffy@yahoo.com
Mobile:646-717-7494

 

 

One can only hope these two organizations, Humana and KaBOOM take the time to sign up for Warren and Doris Buffet's course on philanthropy.

 

 

 


Posted by tammyduffy at 8:27 PM EDT
Thursday, 26 May 2016
RUTGERS NURSERY PARTNERS WITH BLUE FISH GRILL TO OPEN GOOD ROOTS CAFÉ
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST


 

RUTGERS NURSERY PARTNERS WITH BLUE FISH GRILL TO OPEN GOOD ROOTS CAFÉ

Rutgers Landscape & Nursery has recently partnered with The Blue Fish Grill in Flemington to open Good Roots Café at their nursery located on Route 202 in Ringoes, NJ.


Situated in their renovated greenhouse amidst stone countertops and reclaimed antique door cabinets, the café’s setting is rustic, comfortable, chic, and inviting. General Manager Jeff Dallesander and Rutgers Nursery owner Jim Brophy have been working to create a destination nursery that feels like a botanical garden for years.  The addition of Good Roots Café has helped actualize this vision, and is an exciting collaboration bridging two community-minded businesses together.


The owners of Blue Fish Grill, Kelly Casanova and her husband, Stacy, are classically trained chefs and met while working for Wolfgang Puck in his Los Angeles and Chicago locations.  They have owned and operated Blue Fish Grill for over 10 years, and are passionate about supporting local agriculture, offering innovative casual fare for all to enjoy.  Lunch fare includes an eclectic mix such as wild mushroom and hibiscus quesadillas, roasted grape and fresh ricotta sandwiches, they also offer decadent pastries (fresh cinnamon buns every Sunday, and honey brioche doughnuts every Saturday), as well as freshly brewed, fair trade coffee from Factory Fuel Company.


The café is also being utilized as an event space for the many classes and workshops held at Rutgers Landscape & Nursery, including ladies planting parties, pruning workshops, guest speaker events, as well as weekly children’s story hour, and morning yoga hosted by A Life in Balance in Flemington.  


Be among the first to experience this new Hunterdon County gem and discover your new favorite place to enjoy lunch, a cup of coffee, or even to host your next event. Open seven days a week, 8:30AM-5PM.


Posted by tammyduffy at 8:48 PM EDT
Grand Shakespearean Tragedy “Hamlet” Comes to MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre June 3 to 12
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST

 


 

 

 Grand Shakespearean Tragedy “Hamlet” Comes to MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre June 3 to 12

 

 Mercer County Community College's (MCCC's) Kelsey Theatre is pleased to welcome back the Mercer County-based theater company Shakespeare '70 for “Hamlet” in June.  Now in its 47th year at Kelsey, the popular company presents Shakespeare’s epic tale about the Prince of Denmark, considered by many to be Shakespeare’s best play, on Fridays, June 3 and 10 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, June 4 and 11 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, June 5 and 12 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on MCCC’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night show on June 3.


Prince Hamlet is depressed.  Summoned home to Elsinore Castle from school in Germany, he arrives to find that his father, the king, has died and his mother, Gertrude, has married his Uncle Claudius.  Without delay, Claudius has installed himself on the Danish throne even though Hamlet is the rightful heir.  Hamlet becomes even more distraught when his father's ghost appears and declares that he was murdered.  Hamlet is facing a poisonous political environment while grappling with his own personal demons and the answer to one of literature’s most enduring questions: “To be, or not to be…”

The show’s cast includes Ray Fallon of Collingswood as Hamlet; Janet Quartarone of Flemington as Gertrude; Steve Lobis of Washington Crossing, Pa., as Claudius; John Fischer of Hamilton as Horatio; George Hartpence of Lambertville as the Ghost of Hamlet's Father; Dale Simon of Flemington as Polonius; Jake Burbage of Jersey City as Laertes; Shannon McGovern of Scotch Plains as Ophelia; Michael Krahel of Hillsborough as Rosencrantz; Jim Bloss of Marlton as Guildenstern; Andrew Timmes of Lawrenceville as Osric; Robert-Alonzo Gray of Ewing as Marcellus/Fortinbras; Pat Rounds of Princeton as Player King; Amanda McCarther of Lawrenceville of Player Queen; Tom Curbishley of Lawrenceville as Player Prologue; Spencer Makow of Princeton as Francisco; Tim Kirk of Delran as Bernardo; and Matthew Cassidy of Morrisville, Pa., as the Gravedigger.


The ensemble features Tristan Curbishley of Lawrenceville, Vianna Fagel of Lambertville, Steven Munoz of Hopatcong, Brittany Rivera of Hamilton, and Jaclyn Wasneski of Hightstown.


The production team for “Hamlet” includes Director John F. Erath, Ph.D., Assistant Director Janet Quartarone, and Producer Curt Foxworth, with assistance from Kayla McLaughlin.  Lili Timmes and Gwyn Curbishley are the stage managers.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 for students and children.  Free parking is available next to the theater.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.kelseytheatre.net or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333.  For a listing of summer events and performances at Kelsey theatre, visit the Kelsey website or call the box office.


Posted by tammyduffy at 8:44 PM EDT
Sunday, 22 May 2016
2016/2017 is Going to Really Stink in Hamilton
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST

 

  2016/2017 is Going to Really Stink in Hamilton

 


 

 

 

Lots of fur has been flying over the Mayor of Hamilton, Mercer County budget. Her own council has "trumped" her to approve something different than what she submitted. They felt her lack of understanding of fiscal responsibility to the town, with her new budget, would put residents at risk. The  council members also boycotted the Mayor's ball this year and did not attend in protest. 

 

The link below will take you to the budget that has been proposed.

 

  http://www.hamiltonnj.com/…/…/320141/2016_Budget_by_Dept.pdf

 

This budget is setting off concering alarms amongst the residents. The lack of common sense and understanding by the townships leadership has residents in an uproar and gravely concerned about the future of the township.

 

The township is slated to spend $2.8 million more dollars than last year. They state in the budget that $1.4 million is slated to fund a debt service to fund capital projects.

 

There is $389,00 slated for pensions. How many of those retiring Hamilton employees will end up back on the payroll in the same job? 

Well, currently today there are 15 double dippers

(see list here:(http://www.tammyduffy.com/ARTFASHION/index.blog/2357589/hamilton39s-ethics/)

 

on the Hamilton payroll. The residents feel that these 15 people should be taken off the payroll immediately. This double dipping is financially bankrupting the NJ pension system.

 

The township has selected a cloud service for the police body cameras that costs $100,000. They purchased 150+ cameras for the police force. This amount of storage is the bare minimum it appears. Why even bother to do the cameras if you cannot afford the storage? Who will manage this aspect of the body cameras for the township to ensure they do not go over their usage? The new IT director who knows nothing about IT? Or has the township rehired the retired IT director, who felt it necessary to destroy all digital records prior to July 2010 in the township? The companies selling these cameras make about a 15% margin on the cameras, but a 50% margin on the storage. They make their money on the storage. This $100,000 could easily turn into a $1,000,000 cost for Hamilton residents if this program is not efficiently managed. 

 

A new plumbing inspector is being added at an undefined cost. One can only hope this does fix some of the issues that exist in the inspection process in the township. There is a Hamilton resident who one year ago installed an air conditioner. The township inspector failed the installation (this seems to be the status quo, everyone fails on the first inspection), and one year later the resident has not called for a re-inspection. There has been zero follow up from the township to this resident to ensure the household is being safely maintained. 

 

The Mayor touts about the increase in construction activity. Yet, there is zero work being done on the aging, failing sewer system in the town. ( http://www.tammyduffy.com/ARTFASHION/index.blog/2355854/hamiltons-potential-building-moratorium/) If the township does not adequately monitor the stress on the existing sewer system, Hamilton residents will be floating in a sea of excrement in the very near future. In the 2016 budget the odor control mechanisms for the sewer plant have been removed. The residents of Hamilton had better go and get some clothes pin for they are in for a smelly year. 

 

A few years back the Mayor hired a firm to submit grants on behalf of the township. So how are they doing, not good. Each year the budget demonstrates a significant drop in the grant dollars coming into the township. One resident commented," We wonder who the grant writing company is and how they are related to someone in the township?"  

 

It is interesting to note that the total donations to the township year after year is exactly the same. Interesting no?

 

 Other highlights from the budget that are interesting.

 

  • SEWER: What are "other" expenses? $5M worth?
  • Why do they think they will make so much more in vendor fees this year at Septemberfest? ($79K to 90K), we guess they are raising the fees at the event.
  • Why do they think they will make so much more $$ at the library this year? ($74K to 241K, a 267% increase) what are the programs that will drive this? The old director mysteriously went on "medical leave" to take care of an ailing parent. A parent according to sources that she estranged from.
  • Mayor's office, Clerks office, HR, Business Administrator, Legal, Engineering, Economic Development, Call Center all get raises. All other departments will see a decrease in their paychecks.
  • Another $325,000 will be spent on new police cars.
  • Shade trees: only $250 will be spent. We estimate this to be one tree. The mayor touts she is a tree hugger. She had wetlands destroyed to spend $500,000 on a gun range in the township and now wants to destroy a floodplain for a solar farm on Sweetbriar Ave. She is planting one tree in return. Great job Madam Mayor.
  • $14M on Group insurance
  • $1500 for photos with children of the mayor. Why is the marketing staff who get paid over $100K doing this at the events?
  • $1.4M other insurances
  • No funding for : Body Armor or other Drunk Driving Programs, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over ($38K before now nothing). Yet Hamilton had 40 alcohol related events in the schools this past year. Out of the 500+ municipalities Hamilton is listed as #10 with one of the highest alcohol related events. Yet, the Mayor has cut ALL of the programs focused on this public safety and health issue in the township.
  • ·         This year's budget has a lot less streets being paved (21 vs. around 30) and not one street/road is in Yardville or Groveville. The streets being redone have council members living on each of them. So, if you are lucky enough to live on their streets, no more potholes for you. The other residents will have to resort to other ways of filling up their sinkholes in the making.

See Page 100 http://www.hamiltonnj.com/…/…/320141/2016_Budget_by_Dept.pdf

  • Only $3,000 spent on background checks for new employees. What are they using Facebook and Twitter? No wonder there are people who have been arrested on the payroll. We guess Facebook is cheaper than the FBI, one less letter.
  • HAMSTAT: Get rid of it. Make people do their jobs in the twp. Would save a quarter of a million of dollars!
  • $20k to mow the lawn at Peter Rafferty Creek. There is $11,500 in the budget for new lawn mowers....why not use those vs. hiring someone?
  • Removed STD prevention ($28K). Hamilton has one of the highest incidence of STD in the State. Why did the Mayor remove this? Hamilton has the 11th highest incident of STD in the STATE of NJ, out of the 565 municipalities for CHLAMYDIA. For GONORRHEA Hamilton is 10th out of 565 municipalities for the most cases. For Syphilis Hamilton is 27th in line for the most cases out of the 565 municipalities. Does the mayor not consider Chlamydia, Syphilis and Gonorrhea STD's that she removed the budget to support the education of these diseases?
  • All Park improvements are listed as CRITICAL status for the improvement. $1M is slated for these improvements. This will cost residents more than what is budgeted. They just handed a lawyer and his plaintiff a very nice piece of discovery with this budget. We did not see a line item for lawsuits based on incompetence. The residents of Hamilton are certainly paying for the poor judgment of the leadership.

 


 

 


Posted by tammyduffy at 10:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 May 2016 2:03 PM EDT
Friday, 20 May 2016
Hamilton Proposing to Install Solar Farm in Floodplain
Topic: COMMUNITY INTEREST


 Hamilton Proposing to Install Solar Farm in Floodplain

 

The residents of the Cornell Heights area, specifically Sweetbriar Ave, were in receipt of a notification this week. This notification focuses on the application for a NJDEP flood hazard area, Block 1581, Lot 11, to be developed into a solar farm on the flood plain.

The residents in the area are very concerned with this project. Currently today, residents have experienced extreme flooding in the area. This project has the potential to make a bad situation even worse. This will damage our homes beyond recognition during a flood.

Flood plains are nature's engineering achievement. No human flood-management expert could ever hope to control flood waters better. They are often an outstanding wildlife habitat, and they protect human habitat from expensive and heartrending disasters.

But to governments, flood plains are all about land elevations, flood-plain "management" and flood insurance. Logical land-use limitations are unthinkable because government knows its mantra policy well:   They will allow the dangers of intense development and attempt to engineer their way out of problems. That's irresponsible and just plain incomprehensible actions of leadership.

If the flood plain is to be destroyed the destroyer should offer to kick in some money to save a wetland habitat somewhere else in the township in the area. Our community is placed at great risk, losing its water filtration, wildlife habitat and flood protection, while another community gains from the use of the solar farm which is slated to power the sewer plant.

Currently today, the sewer plant utilizes 7Megs of power. The solar farm is slated to only manage 4Megs. Why is the township focused on such a project when the infrastructure the sewer system in the township is failing and ailing?  Who is paying for this project? Who is paying for the upkeep of the panels? Service costs, replacement of the panels? Is this the responsibility of the private developer? What advantage does this bring to the residents connecting it to the sewer plant?

To deliberately destroy the floodplain is unacceptable.  This past summer the township built a gun range on the other side of our development, destroying trees and wetlands.  They are also in the process of allowing another developer, American Metro Way, to add additional dwellings in an already overwhelmed ecosystem. They will also be destroying more trees with that development. This unbalanced give and take and give is leaving us with environmental chaos in the area.

If a developer decides that the cost of fill is less than the profit from increased densities in the flood plain, then the flood plain can be elevated to a "safe" level and the storm water "managed" with retention ponds. The most important cost of flood-plain development is the loss of its environmental functions.

Flood plains and accompanying wetlands provide erosion control and absorb flood waters. They also filter pollution and provide habitat for animal, plant and aquatic life.

Federal studies show an acre of flood-plain wetlands can store up to 1.6 million gallons of floodwater. Restoring rather than destroying the wetlands of flood plains can reduce damaging floods. Government knows the risks, and they take them at our peril. The plan is to destroy 20 acres of the floodplain with the solar farm. In order to install the solar panels in the ground they must use concrete. These concrete supports will destroy a vast amount of the floodplain. The existing vegetation that is left will be shielded by the panels, inevitably dieing. This has the potential to create significant issues when there is significant rain.

This area is a well known flood zone. It was only exasperated when the new bridge when in and they raised the bridge 21 inches. The first heavy rain we got my house flooded due to the fact the bridge no longer flooded but the slope that was created by the engineers drove the water to the residents homes. As a resident of Hamilton township it is my belief that this is reckless government and development must be stopped.

Undeveloped floodplain land provides many natural resources and functions of considerable economic, social, and environmental value. Nevertheless, these and other benefits are often overlooked when local land-use decisions are made. Floodplains often contain wetlands and other important ecological areas as part of a total functioning system that impacts directly on the quality of the local environment.

Many of the nation’s most prominent landscape characteristics, including many of our most valuable natural and cultural resources, are associated with floodplains. These resources include wetlands, fertile soils, rare and endangered plants and animals, and sites of archaeological and historical significance. Floodplains have been shaped, and continue to be shaped, by dynamic physical and biological processes driven by climate, the hydrologic cycle, erosion and deposition, extreme natural events, and other forces. The movement of water through ground and surface systems, floodplains, wetlands and watersheds is perhaps the greatest indicator of the interaction of natural processes in the environment.  Has there been a historical search done on the land to ensure that we are preserving the historical nature of the land?

 

These natural processes influence human activities and are, in turn, affected by our activities. They represent important natural functions and beneficial resources and provide both opportunities and limitations for particular uses and activities.

 

Traditionally, while much attention has been focused on the hazards associated with flooding and floodplains, less attention has been directed toward the natural and cultural resources of floodplains or to evaluation of the full social and economic returns from floodplain use.

 

In recent decades, the natural resources associated with floodplains – particularly wetlands – have been the subject of increased scientific study and management.

 

Surface water, ground water, floodplains, wetlands and other features do not function as separate and isolated components of the watershed, but rather as a single, integrated natural system. Disruption of any one part of this system can have long-term and far-reaching consequences on the functioning of the entire system. In the past, lack of understanding of the overall natural system and its component processes contributed to significant alteration of the natural functions of floodplains, and in many cases to the degradation and destruction of these resources.  These facts should not be taken lightly and we expect to know what has been done to ensure the public safety of the residents.

 

Floodplain resources, including wetlands and agricultural lands, are experiencing increasing pressure for use and development – for highways, for residential and commercial building sites, and for other urban uses. In response to these development pressures, knowledge and information regarding the natural resources, processes and functions of floodplains can contribute to assessments of the ecological, economic and social impacts on further floodplain development.

 

This knowledge and information can help to protect and better utilize the benefits and values these resources provide. Improved knowledge and information about the natural resources of floodplains can be used to differentiate between lands that should remain in their natural condition, lands that can accommodate certain uses but not others, and lands that are most suitable for development.

 

The natural and cultural values associated with floodplain resources can be categorized in a variety of ways. Floodplain values can be thought of in terms of environmental quality values such as fish and wildlife habitat and water quality. They can also be thought of in terms of socioeconomic values, which are more easily understood by some because these values provide either dollar savings (related to flood and storm damage protection, for example) or financial profit (related to increased production from floodplain use).

 

Floodplains that are relatively undisturbed (or have been restored to a nearly natural state) provide a wide range of benefits to both human and natural systems. These benefits take many forms: some are static conditions (such as providing aesthetic pleasure) and some are active processes (like filtering nutrients). There is some ambiguity over which of these benefits are properly termed “functions,” which are “resources,” and where the terms overlap. A fairly well accepted (but not necessarily comprehensive) list and descriptions follows. The resources and functions have been loosely grouped into three categories, and the categories have been labeled according to the primary recipient of the benefit or its relationship to a larger system. “Water resources” include those resources and functions of floodplains that are part of or provide a benefit to the hydrologic cycles

on the earth’s surface and sub-surface, including natural moderation of floods, water quality maintenance, and groundwater recharge.

 

“Biologic resources” are floodplain resources and functions that benefit large and diverse populations of plants and animals. “Societal resources” are floodplain resources and functions that directly benefit human society, including historical, archeological, scientific, recreational, and esthetic sites, in addition to sites generally highly productive for agriculture, aquaculture, and forestry where these uses are compatible with natural systems.

 

The characteristics of the floodplain and of flooding are closely interdependent. Floods shape floodplain topography and soils and influence ecology. In turn, the physical characteristics of the floodplain shape flood flows. Except in narrow, steep valleys and areas of coastal bluffs, floodplains provide a broad area to spread out and temporarily store floodwaters. This reduces flood peaks and velocities and the potential for erosion. Flood storage is particularly important in urbanizing areas where even small floods resulting from a 5- or 10-year storm can cause severe flood damage.

 

In their natural vegetated state, floodplains slow the rate at which the incoming overland flow reaches the main water body. Vegetation also reduces shoreline erosion. Allowing this solar farm to be built in this floodplain will destroy the residents homes the first big rain we get.  In the documents we were sent, there is no information demonstrating any analysis was done. An engineer was hired to perform some task, however, what really has been done to evaluate the long term effects of the installation of the solar farm?

 

Solar array project sites often encompass extensive areas, and it is economically desirable to minimize land costs. Upon the consideration of this site for a potential solar project, did the developer contact the Regional Flood Control District to learn of known floodplains including sheet flooding areas that impact the project site? Certain mapped FEMA zones require more detailed study prior to project design.

The solar panels I assume will be on frames, lifting them above any flood water and the transformer building would be sited outside the flood plain.  I would expect the Environment Agency to object to this application because it would lay on a flood plain. To take the approach, if they even did this, to look at maps from the county is not enough. They did this when they built the new bridge and after the opening of the bridge there were items missed (we got flooded) and it cost more to fix the mistakes they made.

I would expect that the developer have commissioned a flood risk specialist to study the impact of the plan on the flood plain and was liaising with the DEP and FEMA to make.

 It is my understanding that some renewable energy projects are exempt from local zoning, it’s important to strive to site a project in a way that respects local residents and community goals. This has never been the case in Hamilton.  They violate the Sunshine laws every chance they get, without repercussion.

The residents in the area are stating that in the event their homes gets flooded due to the installation of this solar farm, they will hold the DEP, the developer, the Township of Hamilton and all others involved, liable for all damages to their homes and contents.

 


 


Posted by tammyduffy at 9:24 PM EDT

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