Art. V funding campaign takes center stage: House leaders support new judge

first_img February 15, 2004 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Art. V funding campaign takes center stage House leaders support new judges Senior Editor For court officials who have been through two years of budget cuts and limited finances, the January 23 meeting of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Judiciary was an unusual experience.Committee members were praising Gov. Jeb Bush for calling for 40 new judges — and saying they wanted even more judges. They also said they’ve heard concerns about a lack of funding for local law libraries and promised to study that issue.And committee members and a representative of the governor’s office were pledging to work closely and amiably to ensure there’s enough money for court operations when the state takes over more trial court funding on July 1. Pursuant to Revision 7 to Art. V approved by voters in 1998, the state must assume a much greater portion of trial court funding no later than the 2004-05 budget year.The question, as Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, put it, is, “When we take the champagne bottle and hit the Art. V boat on July 1, is it going to float?”Subcommittee Chair Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, listed several areas during the meeting where he wants improved funding.“I’m going to make it a strong priority that we fund the new judges that are needed and the Supreme Court has certified,” he said. “The governor’s budget has 40. The House budget will have more than 40.” The Supreme Court certified 88 new judges, 51 circuit, 33 county, and four district court of appeal judges.Negron also said the House should address the judicial assistant pay issue raised by the court. “I want to make sure that judicial assistants are treated fairly and are not paid less just because they are in one part of the state.”When Brad Thomas, representing Bush’s office, presented a summary of the governor’s budget, Negron used the opportunity to discuss funding of law libraries, which has raised concerns around the state. Previously, counties imposed a filing fee surcharge to support the libraries, but will lose that authority when the state assumes a greater share of the responsibility for funding the trial courts as of July 1.“I think libraries are an essential element of the court system,” Negron said. “I would hate for one of our legacies to be that people who have been convicted and are serving time have better access to law libraries than our citizens.”He added, though, he’s not sure who should pay for the libraries, and perhaps local bar associations could help.Thomas replied, “If that issue is important to you, it is important to us. We’ll work with you and we’ll work with the bar associations. That is not a state requirement [to fund the libraries] but that doesn’t mean the state can’t fund it.. . . I think the governor would agree that access to the law is important.”He suggested state officials also begin discussions with the Florida Association of Counties about law libraries.Thomas’ presentation also gave more details about Gov. Bush’s budget, which had been released three days before the committee met.“We believe that this [budget] will ensure due process and ensure the timely resolution of cases and ensure the timely payments of due process expenses to state attorneys and public defenders,” Thomas said. “We appreciate the needs of the court system and I think we’re pretty close.”The governor proposed around $230 million for Revision 7 costs, Thomas noted, of which about $102 million is for extra court costs. Overall, the Bush budget proposed $377 million for the court system, which had requested $454 million.The remainder of the $230 million is for state attorneys, public defenders, and other Revision 7 due process costs, he said.Among the details Thomas gave were:• The governor is proposing about $41 million total for court administration and case management costs, which allows for continuation of the present number of hearing officers and special masters, funding for court interpreter programs, and other administrative and court support programs. In response to a question, Thomas said those figures have no increase in the number of hearing officers or clerks for judges.• The budget allots $41.5 million for conflict of interest attorneys, and $19.7 million to appoint attorneys in dependency cases. The money for conflict attorneys is “the number one dollar issue for Article V,” Thomas said.• $3.6 million has been proposed to improve state attorney pay in four circuits by ensuring their funding is at least at $14 per resident of that circuit. The affected circuits, Thomas said, are the Fifth, Ninth, 15th, and 20th. Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Pompano Beach, asked if there was a similar program for public defenders. Thomas said no, and Seiler wondered if that was discriminatory. “I do think there are some public defenders who are not funded at $7 per capita,” Thomas said, “but the governor thought it was more pressing for state attorneys to receive this funding at this time.”• The governor’s budget gives the Supreme Court chief justice flexibility to reassign positions as necessary to accommodate changes brought about by Revision 7.Thomas noted that the state’s chief financial officer had studied Art. V costs related to Revision 7 for the counties’ 2001-02 budget year, which ended September 30, 2002. The conclusion was those costs were $199 million. Allowing for historical judicial budget hikes of around eight percent, Thomas said that means the governor’s proposed $230 million for Revision 7 is very close.Gelber agreed, although he expressed concern there were inadequate funds to accommodate both inflation and the growth in case filings. He, like others, said changes are likely in succeeding budgets as needs become clearer.“This is a decent first volley at a pretty difficult job,” he said. “Everyone in this room is trying to divine what a state budget will look like for something that’s never been in the state budget.” Art. V funding campaign takes center stage: House leaders support new judgelast_img read more

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Schenectady still has a bright future

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion I have enjoyed following Schenectady’s revitalization over the last 15 years, thanks to the efforts of countless stakeholders. However, after losing multiple landmarks, I believe we’re missing opportunities to make lasting change while reversing the antiquated message that growth requires a choice between past and future. I’m confident that we have everything we need to implement sustainable building practices, create connected and vibrant neighborhoods citywide, and move toward reducing our reliance on government and outside funding to thrive.I was raised here by hard-working parents who understood the opportunities the city afforded. I’m a proud product of the public school system and community-supported initiatives. My first job was as a newspaper carrier for The Gazette. High grades earned me numerous scholarships, including from local public-benefit organizations. Schenectady got a bad rap back then, and my parents were often heard proudly defending the city, its unique heritage and its untapped potential. These days, I find myself doing that, too, wondering why people fail to realize that urban centers will always share good and bad, and we are no exception.Our local constituents offer invaluable insight into green design alternatives like salvaging demolition materials. Many well-meaning organizations are struggling to remain viable while advocating healthy communities. With a little ingenuity, we can harness the collective power of these groups and make Schenectady a leader in smart growth, sustainable construction and interdependent community. In my graduation speech 21 years ago, I spoke about a bright future and I still believe those words.Caroline (Benedict) BardwellSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationMotorcyclist injured in Thursday afternoon Schenectady crashSchenectady man dies following Cutler Street dirt bike crashSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%last_img read more

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‘New normal’ exposes poor railway infrastructure

first_img“The long lines and crowding are hard to avoid if the pattern of commuter activities is still focused on the busy hours in the morning and afternoon,” KCI vice president for corporate communication Anne Purba said in a statement on June 7.She stated that the company had reached maximum optimization of its facilities, with a five-minute headway for the busy line connecting Bogor and Jakarta, among other lines. The company runs 124 morning trips and 126 afternoon trips during the rush hours.“On the Bogor line, it is so difficult to add more trips because the headway is at the maximum capacity of the available railway infrastructure. Some railway tracks are also shared with other rail services such as intercity trains and freight trains,” she added.The Greater Jakarta commuter line saw daily passenger volume jump to over 979,000 in 2019 from around 922,000 in 2018.However, the rail infrastructure development needed to meet this increase is still lagging behind.The projects include the double-double track (DDT) railway project connecting Manggarai, South Jakarta, and Cikarang, West Java, as well as the separation between the Bogor line and the railway line to Bekasi, West Java, at Manggarai Station, with the latter set to be completed by year end.“With the line separation [between the Bogor and Bekasi lines], the [commuter] train delays at Manggarai Station can be overcome,” Transportation Ministry Director General for Railways Zulfikri said on June 13.Meanwhile, he said that the government was pursuing the completion of the DDT project by 2021.The DDT railway development, initiated in 2002, is intended to separate the tracks for long-haul trains, and the commuter line, as well as the airport railway, to reduce delays and increase rail capacity.Read also: Train stations packed as transition into ‘new normal’ begins in JakartaMeanwhile, another infrastructure project, the light rail transit (LRT), expected to connect cities in Greater Jakarta, has been delayed until 2022, from its initial scheduled completion in November 2021.State construction firm Adhi Karya, the project developer, cited the pandemic and land clearance as the reasons behind the postponement.With the current gap between demand and the available infrastructure on the railways, experts have called on the government to intervene to safeguard passengers’ health.“Trips must be more evenly spread throughout the day. For example, institutions and employers could implement flexible working hours so people don’t share the same working hours in the morning,” Bandung Institute of Technology urban transportation researcher Puspita Dirgahayani said on June 10.Meanwhile, the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Ministry has stated that the government has intervened through the issuance of circular letter no. 8/2020 by the COVID-19 task force, which mandates the staggering of working hours for civil servants, state-owned enterprises employees and private employees.“This is what we can do as we can’t add more transportation facilities, it has already reached maximum [capacity],” the ministry’s deputy of infrastructure and transportation coordination Ridwan Djamaluddin said on Monday.Topics : Train passengers in Greater Jakarta have been struggling with their daily commutes during the so-called “new normal”, as long lines and crowded stations highlight the ongoing issues relating to the lack of public infrastructure and transportation facilities in the densely populated capital.Commuter line operator PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) reported that passenger numbers surged to 279,000 on June 9 alone, from 80,000 per day on average during the large-scale social distancing (PSBB), as the government began to reopen the economy.However, with health protocols in place to avoid COVID-19 transmission, the company has limited passenger numbers to 40 percent of total capacity for each trip, leading to packed stations across the region. Seno Adi, 47, who lives in Bogor, West Java, and travels to Jakarta daily for work, lamented the long line in the morning to board a train, while he also struggled with the packed cars that made it difficult to maintain social distancing to avoid COVID-19 transmission.Read also: Commuters return to public transport with more protective gear“There were around 95-100 people in one carriage and people stood so close to each other. It made the carriage so crowded and it was difficult to keep our distance,” he told The Jakarta Post on June 11.KCI maintains that although the company has increased the number of daily trips to 935 trips from 784 trips per day prior to the PSBB relaxation, while also increasing the number of cars on each train, the passenger crowding is “inevitable”.last_img read more

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Malaysian company buys into Calgary company’s Montney stake

first_imgCalgary-based Progress Energy Resources Corp. has closed a deal to create a strategic partnership with a Malaysian oil and gas company worth $1.07 billion.The deal gives the Malaysian company, Petronas, a 50 per cent stake in the working interest to develop part of the Montney shale assets, in Northeast B.C. The specific assets are the Altares, Lily and Kahta properties.- Advertisement -“Both parties have worked diligently and cooperatively towards the completion of the agreements that form the basis of our strategic partnership,” said Michael Culbert, president and CEO of Progress.Petronas will also be examining the possibility of developing a Liquefied Natural Gas export facility on the province’s west coast. The feasibility study for the project is expected to begin immediately.last_img read more

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