Posts Tagged ‘tracks’

6 Questions with Assembly Candidate Michael Cacciotti

Čtvrtek, Květen 31st, 2012

Michael Cacciotti, one of five candidates for the 41st Assembly District, has worked for the state of California for more than two decades.

First, he served as Deputy Attorney for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and then Deputy Attorney General with the State of California Department of Justice handling consumer fraud.

He says this experience combined with four years working for former Speaker Pro Tem of the California Assembly Mike Roos has given him the institutional knowledge to excel as an Assemblyman.

Cacciotti is also a passionate environmentalist, who serves as a board member on AQMD and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. As a city council member of South Pasadena over the past decade, he has helped save the city thousands of dollars in conversions like compact fluorescent light bulbs, drought tolerant plants and hybrid fleets.

Patch: You began serving as a councilman of South Pasadena in 2001 and are on your third term as Mayor. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment while in office?

MC: Turning the city around fiscally. When I got on the council, there was no money being spent on infrastructure. There were millions being spent on fighting the freeway, which you have to fight the freeway—but in a smart way.

It’s a great council, and we have worked together to embark on a massive infrastructure program—basically rebuilding the entire city from scratch. The leases—stuff like that is very important. Cities have these concessions in municipal leases where at the state level, here’s what I can do:

They did an audit just last year, and the state has thousands of leases, and they only audited about 32. They found out the state was losing tens of millions of dollars by not reviewing—like we did here in the city [of South Pasadena]. There’s potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in savings.

Patch: Let’s talk about your stance on Caltrans homes. What do you feel the state could gain from selling the approximate 500 homes it owns along the 710 corridor?

MC: When I worked at Caltrans, I’m the one who did all that stuff with eminent domain. I handled a lot of lawsuits when people tripped and fell at those properties; the state got sued for a million dollars—because someone was electrocuted or [there was a] faulty wire, an explosion … a roof caved in …that costs us millions of dollars a year, so the savings there would be in the millions. … in staff to oversee that, litigation in the legal department and then the sale [would put] $500 million to a billion dollars in the State Treasury for transportation projects. The cities and municipalities will get that tax increment back, which was lost for the last 40 years. Everyone wins all the way around.

Patch: You are the only candidate who has been a teacher. How would this affect your role as Assemblyman if elected?

MC: I’ve been in classrooms. My first year, most classes were 25 students, but some were over 35, [and in those classrooms] I was a babysitter almost. I couldn’t teach. Class size is very important. I experienced it personally. It was a nightmare for teachers and nothing gets done for the students. I know the importance of technology and resources.

If it were three years ago … I worked for the state three years ago, I knew the snap shop then when we had a billion dollar budget, and I wouldn’t have supported a tax increase. In those three years, we’ve cut to $700 million. We’ve cut jobs; we’ve furloughed people. My caseload went from 40 to 80 cases.

Terese Garrett-Miller wins Rising Star award from Alliance of Women Owned Businesses

Úterý, Květen 22nd, 2012

Terese Garrett-Miller, owner of Bella Kitchen Essentials in Uptown Gig Harbor, has been declared the “Rising Star” among women-owned business in the South- and West Sound area by the Alliance of Women Owned Businesses (AWOB).

The announcement was made at a gala “Crystal Star” banquet on May 17, where Garrett-Miller was presented with the Rising Star trophy by fellow Gig Harbor resident Julie Tappero, AWOB founder and owner of West Sound Workforce.

The Rising Star was one of two awards presented by AWOB at the event. “The Rising Star award acknowledges the achievements of a new — under five years —woman-owned business,” Tappero said. “The award is to applaud her early success and accomplishments and to encourage her ongoing efforts.”

The other award — the “Crystal Star” — was given to Lisa Chissus, owner of CFM Consolidated, a plastics manufacturing business in Fife. The Crystal Star salutes “an inspiring, successful entrepreneurial woman who has been in business longer than five years” Tappero said.

This was the first time the awards have been given by the two-year-old AWOB organization. “We had more than 30 candidates that came from as far away as Indianola in North Kitsap and from all over Pierce County,” Tappero said. “The judges narrowed them down to 14 semi-finalists, and then to three finalists in each of the categories.”

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who was one of the judges, introduced the three finalists in both the Rising Star and Crystal Star categories. Several — but not all — of the finalists were AWOB members.

In describing Garrett-Miller, who opened Bella Kitchen Essentials in 2010, Anderson said, “Terese is an example of how a woman can rise above bad circumstances and be a success. Shortly after she opened her business, her husband was diagnosed with a very serious illness, but Terese persevered through those hard times and listened to her customers and grew her business.

“Her customers said they wanted a cooking school so she added a cooking school to her store and soon she will open an online store.”

In accepting the Rising Star award, Garrett-Miller singled out Evie Lynn as her mentor and guiding light. “If any of you women here needs an example to follow, Mrs. Lynn is the one.”

She noted that her husband Howard and their two daughters, Alex and Lauren, were all present. “One of your servers tonight is my daughter, Alex. One thing I taught my daughters is how to work,” she said with a smile.

She called the award “an extraordinary honor. This room is filled with stars. And you all know that it’s impossible to succeed without a team of good people, family, friends and vendors to work with you.”

Garrett-Miller’s thank-you list included her bank, the management of Uptown, her “magic man” store manager Scott Johnson “and especially my customers.”

Other Rising Star finalists were Cheryl Iseberg, owner of Blue Zone Consulting in Fircrest and Mary Lou Guinn, owner of Point of View by Lou Photography in Gig Harbor.

In addition to Chissus, the Crystal Star finalist were Julie Thompson, owner of Family First Adult Family Homes in Gig Harbor and Monica Downen, owner of Monica’s Waterfront Bakery and Café in Silverdale.

Ma’s African visit shows value of ROC foreign aid

Pondělí, Duben 16th, 2012

Citing statistics from the government and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the president said that in 2010, Taiwan provided US$390 million in international assistance, accounting for 0.1 percent of gross domestic product.

While this is a praiseworthy achievement, there is still room for improvement. Advanced economies averaged 0.28 percent of GDP in foreign aid expenditure during the same period, with the OECD target 0.7 percent of GDP.

Ma understands that as a former recipient of foreign aid, the ROC should give back to the international community at every opportunity. This is why he promised to assist Burkina Faso in managing an influx of more than 400,000 refugees from neighboring Mali, which suffered a military coup March 22 over the government’s perceived weak response to a growing rebellion by Tuareg nomads in the northern part of the country.

After announcing an increase in ROC support from 600,000 euros to 1.6 million euros April 12 in the capital Ouagadougou, Ma described the commitment as in line with ROC government policy of providing humanitarian aid. While only a small percentage of the estimated 100 million euros needed to address this situation, the donation still stands as a timely reminder for the international community that more needs to be done to resolve this ongoing crisis.

Such a gesture shows the effectiveness of ROC support for its African allies in fostering regional stability by assisting them to overcome challenges common throughout the continent.

On this basis, Ma wants ROC officials to propose new cooperation projects covering areas such as agriculture, energy, health care and infrastructure. These initiatives seek to build upon the numerous achievements already chalked up by the nation’s technical teams during their many years spent working in the region, ensuring that support is provided in the most direct and effective form.

A shining example of this assistance is the ROC-funded “A Lamp Lighting up Africa” project, which helps Burkina Faso students study at night with light-emitting diode, or LED, lamps. Since the project was initiated in 2009, more than 7,000 solar rechargeable lamps have been sent to schools in Burkina Faso, enabling locals to study at home instead of under street lights.

Helping each ROC African ally develop solar power projects is a key step in Ma’s plan to tackle the potentially catastrophic phenomenon of global warming. He also wants the nations to help Taipei do more for them in the international environmental arena by supporting Taiwan’s push for beefed-up participation in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In a world tightly linked by trade and investment flows, poverty in one country diminishes the potential for prosperity elsewhere. The Ma administration understands this precept and seeks to improve the quality and quantity of aid for ROC allies in Africa. This guarantees a win-win outcome for all parties and reaffirms the government’s commitment to playing an expanded role in the global partnership for development.

Take advantage of your smart meter to save on your electric bill

Neděle, Duben 1st, 2012

Cool weather has been giving us a nice break on our electric bills, but we all know what’s coming soon.

So now may be the time to try out a free online tool tied to your home’s smart meter that tracks your electricity usage by 15-minute intervals, provides charts of usage over two years and allows you to analyze how many kilowatts that old air conditioner and that new big-screen TV are sucking.

Accessing the tool is easy and can lead to savings on your monthly bill.

Arlington homeowner Nick Schroeder embraced smart meter technology and checked in daily as he made energy changes to his house and his usage habits.

“A lot of my changes were little things to save on energy that added up to a lot,” said Schroeder, facilities engineer at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Oncor has installed smart meters in most of North Texas over the past two years. If you don’t have one yet and are in Oncor’s territory, you will get one soon. The electric transmission company has installed close to 3 million smart meters, covering most of its customer base, said Chris Schein, Oncor’s spokesman. Remaining customers will have the new meters by year’s end, he said.

Signing up takes just a few minutes. With a recent electric bill in hand, you can look at data from 48 hours earlier to up to two years prior, depending on when your smart meter was installed. The charts showed that my house averaged around 40-50 kilowatts a day in March, well below more than 100 kilowatts a day I burned through last August.

Schroeder, who came in second in Oncor’s Biggest Energy Saver contest last year, said he began checking his usage and making changes to his house (built in 2005) before he entered the contest. He spent around $2,500 on energy upgrades, he said.

Among the big changes was adding 6 inches of attic insulation ($600) and a full radiant barrier in the attic ($800); buying an Energy Star front-load washer ($350), solar screens on his east and west windows ($300) and a programmable thermostat with Web interface and iPhone application ($100). He installed a more efficient blower motor on his builder-grade heating/air-conditioning system for around $150.

All of his other changes were relatively low-cost, including compact fluorescent light bulbs and timers and caulk and weather stripping around windows and doors.

Schroeder also said he changed some of his usage habits and used ceiling fans more, ran fuller loads in the dishwasher and laundry, set his computer to automatically shut down and barbecued more outside instead of using the oven or microwave.

“Once people go to take a look at their usage on the website, it’s got a pretty high retention level,” Schein said. “They may not go back daily or weekly, but they do return on a semi-regular basis.”

Oncor is planning an educational/marketing push later this spring to encourage people to tap into their smart meter accounts. The utility will also hold another Biggest Energy Saver Contest (last year’s prizes included a Chevy Volt and Energy Star appliances).

Gentlemen, Start Conserving

Úterý, Září 13th, 2011

“This is not the sport that you would expect to hear green messages, so it’s a good learning opportunity,” said Andrew Winston, who runs Winston Eco-Strategies. “You’re reaching millions of people who have not heard much about it at all and are sometimes hostile to it. So if you open their eyes to it, it’s certainly worth it.”

Indeed, the greening of Nascar is a sweeping undertaking because so many people attend so many races in so many places, at tracks that are turned into small cities with all the associated problems of garbage, water, power, sewage and air quality. To tackle these challenges in a systematic way, Nascar hired Lynch in 2008, just as teams, tracks and others in the sport started to feel the effects of the recession.

Rather than institute rules, Lynch brought people from all parts of Nascar together to figure out how environmental programs could help them cut tens of millions of dollars in costs without imposing too much strain on their operations.

Lynch started by expanding efforts already under way. Safety-Kleen, a $1.2 billion recycler of automotive fluids that started working with Nascar two decades ago, expanded its collection of used fuels, lubricants and oily rags at tracks and race team shops. In addition to the 225,000 gallons of fluids it expects to bring in this year, Safety-Kleen also recycles oil filters, fluorescent light bulbs, metal shavings, aluminum and steel.

“None of that goes in a landfill,” said Drew Patey, the director of motor sports for Safety-Kleen which, because of its alliance with Nascar, now works at IndyCar races, too. “Guys in the heartland who didn’t see recycling as a priority are seeking us out.”

Nascar also claims to have the largest recycling program in sports because of Coca-Cola and Coors Light, two Nascar sponsors that are expected to recycle about 12 million bottles and cans this season, twice as much as last year. At races, the trucking company Freightliner stations a clean-diesel rig — with a Richard Petty custom paint scheme — bearing a Coca-Cola compactor that crushes up to 1,000 containers a minute. Hundreds of tons of cardboard are also collected each season.