PLOT TWIST Massachusetts Attorney General DELAYS Ruling On Town Meeting Article Relative

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — In a recent letter to Town Clerk Sharon George, Assistant Attorney General Margaret Hurley announced that the Attorney General’s Office is not prepared to issue a ruling yet on Article 2 from the Special Town Meeting on December 16.Article 2 changed the town’s zoning bylaws to place any future hospitals, nursing homes, and detox centers exclusively in industrial zones with a special permit.“The Attorney General’s Office is essentially delaying their ruling on Article 2, the article to make modifications to the zoning bylaws to address detox centers,” Town Manager Jeff Hull told Selectmen at this week’s board meeting. “They’ve established a new deadline of June 19, 2018. They’re looking to take additional time to review the merits as to whether the article complies with state law and the state constitution.”Hull noted that the other articles (Article 3-5) from the Special Town Meeting were approved by the Attorney General’s Office.  Article 1 was never taken up at the meeting.Selectman Mike McCoy, who was the lead petitioner of Article 2, had a lot to say about the Attorney General’s delay.“I believe if the Attorney General thought the article was discriminatory, the AG’s Office would have disapproved it immediately, but she has not,” said McCoy. “I believe this has become a political football.  That is why, I believe, the Attorney General’s Office is delaying their decision.”“The Attorney General’s Office has heard from the opposing side. Local lawyers and residents have submitted briefs against Article 2,” said McCoy. “The AG has to really realize that — the bottom line is – 1,571 people in this community signed 3 petitions and 85% of the vote at the Special Town Meeting supported Article 2, plus a majority vote from the Board of Selectmen at that time… Now she needs to hear from the winning side.”McCoy made a motion to “have Town Counsel engage with the Attorney General’s Office in order to have Article 2 approved,” noting “Town Counsel needs to defend the vote of Town Meeting.”“We need to put the Attorney General’s Office on notice that if she disapproves it, the town has a right to sue the Attorney General’s Office and bring it to court…. We have that constitutional right,” added McCoy.“I may disagree with a vote of the Town Meeting, but I’ve always accepted it. It is our duty and obligation to fight for a Town Meeting votes passage,” ccontinued McCoy. “Town Counsel Foskett believed Article 1 would not stand up… but felt Article 2 would probably hold water with the AG’s Office.”McCoy’s motion failed for a lack of a second.“I appreciate your passion, but am not prepared to endorse your motion at this time,” responded Selectman Mike Champoux. “When the Attorney General does come back with her findings, it may be a moot point… And if she doesn’t rule [in favor of Article 2], I might give some consideration to your request, but – at this point – I don’t think it’s necessary. We ought to let her do her job.”Selectman Kevin Caira questioned why the town should get involved since it was a citizen-backed petition, not a Selectmen-backed petition.“Why can’t the petitioners (“Mike McCoy and others”) and get the attorneys together to fight, why should the town have to do that?,” asked Caira.“When I walk out the door tonight, the AG’s Office is going to find out what that exact vote was,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “I’m also going to solicit our legislative delegation – our state senator and our two state reps – to do their jobs and engage with the Attorney General. This has become a political football.  I know local attorneys have submit briefs in opposition in Article 2. Residents have contacted her. Now she needs to hear from the winning side, plain and simple.”Two residents spoke on the matter.“Article 2 has become a political football, largely due to Mr. McCoy’s efforts,” said Mary Giroux. “I don’t believe in name-calling, or bringing up issues that don’t pertain to this particular one. I do believe, from the very beginning, the intent, itself, was discriminatory all along. It does require further review. I’m glad the Attorney General is looking at it. The intent could open up the town to liability later. This really does need to be looked at patiently and thoroughly, not just for the good of the people with substance abuse disorder, but also for everyone in this town.”“We change people’s mind one problem at a time, not with conflict and name-calling.  I hope everyone keeps a cool head on this,” continued Giroux. “I hope we continue to help everyone in our community — not just a group of neighbors — but also those people suffering from substance abuse disorder, as they need our help most of all.”“[Article 2] is incredibly discriminatory, that’s all it is. It’s mind-blowing… Those suffering from substance abuse disorder are a protected class of citizens,” said Michael Gray, who noted he’s talked to the Attorney General’s Office on this matter several times. “I’ve never been more mad or disgusted of the town I’ve lived in for 42 years.”In response to Gray’s plea that the Selectmen stand up against discrimination, Selectman Mike Champoux took umbrage.“It’s our job to see that the government process goes effectively, fairly and equitably,” responded Champoux. “We had a Special Town Meeting where the entire voting population was invited to come and participate in. The fact that the vote didn’t come out the way you liked it, I’m sorry…. Let’s see if [the article] is determined to be constitutional. You may not like that answer too.  It’s called democracy. Sometimes democracy kinda blows, but that’s the way it goes. I prefer it to any of the other systems.”McCoy Drops Another GrenadeTowards the end of the meeting, under “New Business,” Selectman Mike McCoy surprised his colleagues with a possible revelation surrounding the detox facility proposal.McCoy claimed, based on conversations he had with land owners on Lowell Street, that – to lock in the zoning on a property for 8 years prior to a zoning change at Town Meeting –  a plan needs to be submitted to the Planning Department, and stamped by the Town Clerk’s Office, prior to the first posted advertisement date of the joint Planning Board/Finance Committee Public Hearing in the Town Crier. He had previously been under the impression that the deadline was prior to the actual hearing.Paul Kneeland, the lead backer of the proposed Detox Facility Proposal at 362 Middlesex Avenue, submitted his subdivision preliminary plan on November 27. While the hearing wasn’t until November 30, the first Town Crier advertisement date for hearing was November 15.  According to McCoy, Kneeland should have had his plan submitted no later than November 14 at 4:30pm.“The stamp here on the application says November 27,” said McCoy. “This application is null and void. This man can’t go forward to the Planning Board and Finance Committee.”McCoy felt confident his position, but did note he could be wrong. He asked Town Manager Jeff Hull to confer with Town Counsel on this matter.Wilmington Apple followed up with the Town Manager on Tuesday morning via email, asking to be provided with Town Counsel’s opinion. On Wednesday night, Town Manager Hull responded.“I appreciate your interest in receiving the Town Counsel’s legal opinion.  At this point, based upon the advice of Town Counsel, I am not at liberty to provide specific details about the legal opinion,” wrote Hull. “In general, I can tell you that the Board has been advised that the filing of the preliminary subdivision plan with the Planning Board on November 27, 2017 preserves the rights of the proponent to develop the property at 362 Middlesex Avenue based upon the General Business zoning in effect prior to the December 16, 2017 special town meeting vote as long as the preliminary subdivision plan is followed by a definitive subdivision plan within seven months.”It would appear that Town Counsel is disagreeing with McCoy’s assertion that Kneeland needed to submit his preliminary subdivision plan by November 14.Open Meeting Law Violation ConcernsTown Manager Jeff Hull told the Selectmen that more care needed to be given when bringing items up under “New Business.”“The Open Meeting Law is established so that the public can be informed, in advance, of what matters are to be considered before the board and any actions to be taken,” cautioned Hull. “When the board is looking to take up, or instruct me to take up, actions under ‘New Business,’ I’m concerned someone could make a case they weren’t forewarned that the matter was being brought up. ‘New Business’ is not for the purpose of taking up unadvertised items on the agenda.”Hull pointed out that, as an example, two meetings ago, under ‘New Business,’ a motion was made relative to authorizing discussions relative to the acquisition of Sciarappa Farm.“Every once in a while, we get these hand grenades from [Selectman McCoy],” observed Selectman Kevin Caira. “This concern [over the Kneeland application] could have been place on the agenda and the Town Manager could have already found out the answer. Now it drags on… All these hand grenades! You should have brought this forward [prior to the meeting] and communicated with your colleagues.”Selectman Chair Mike Champoux said the agenda is put together on Thursday at 4pm. McCoy said he made this discovery on Wednesday around 2:30pm.“Then it should have been on the agenda. The Town Manager could have done his homework ahead of time,” responded Champoux. “This is not the intent or spirit behind ‘New Business.’”Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedSELECTMEN NOTEBOOK: Selectmen Call For Special Town Meeting On December 16; Detox Issue Will Come To A HeadIn “Government”GAME CHANGER: Special Town Meeting Votes Won’t Affect Current Detox Proposal As Emotions Boil OverIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: McCoy Calls For Special Town Meeting In Response To Detox Center Zoning ConcernsIn “Government”last_img read more

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Trump orders end to Dreamer immigration programme

first_imgDemonstrators hold signs during a protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration on Tuesday scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a programme that protects from deportation almost 800,000 young men and women who were brought into the US illegally as children, in Washington, US, 5 September. Photo: Reuters US president Donald Trump on Tuesday scrapped a programme that protects from deportation almost 800,000 young men and women who were brought into the United States illegally as children, ordering a phased-out dismantling that gives a gridlocked Congress six months to decide the immigrants’ fate.Trump’s action, announced by attorney general Jeff Sessions, rescinds a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The administration presented the move as necessary to show respect for the country’s immigration laws, and said nobody covered by the programme would be affected before 5 March.The programme, created by Democratic former president Barack Obama, is supported by Democrats and many business leaders, and hundreds of people protested outside the White House over Tuesday’s announcement. Democrats and civil liberties advocates blasted Trump.“President Trump’s decision to end DACA is a deeply shameful act of political cowardice and a despicable assault on innocent young people in communities across America,” said Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives.Sessions said the action does not mean the DACA recipients are “bad people.”“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple. That would be an open-border policy and the American people have rightly rejected that,” Sessions said.In a statement issued by the White House, Trump said, “I do not favour punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”The move to end DACA marked the latest action by Trump that is sure to alienate Hispanic Americans, a growing segment of the US population and an increasingly important voting bloc. Most of the immigrants protected by DACA, dubbed “Dreamers,” came from Mexico and other Latin American countries.Trump’s order, deferring the actual end of the programme, effectively kicks responsibility for the fate of the Dreamers to his fellow Republicans who control Congress.But Congress has been unable since the president took office in January to pass any major legislation and has been bitterly divided over immigration in the past.Obama bypassed Congress and created DACA through an executive order in 2012. Sessions said the Trump administration concluded that Obama exceeded his authority in setting up the program, which has long been the target of conservative hard-liners on the issue of immigration.Elaine Duke, acting head of the Homeland Security Department, issued a memo rescinding DACA. The department will provide a limited window – until Oct. 5 – for some DACA recipients whose work permits expire before 5 March to apply to renew those permits. This would mean that some beneficiaries of DACA could be in the country through 2019.DACA recipients whose work permits expire will be considered to be in the country and eligible for deportation, but will be a low priority for immigration enforcement, administration officials said.Trump appeared determined to pressure U.S. lawmakers to act. “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!” the president wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning before the policy announcement was made.There were some signs that Congress might be willing to act, with a number of senior Republican lawmakers coming forward to express an interest in protecting the Dreamers.The president’s decision may have been forced by nine Republican state attorneys general, led by Texas, who had threatened a legal challenge in federal court if Trump did not act to end DACA. A number of Democratic state attorneys general have threatened legal action to defend the programme.House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan called on lawmakers to find a long-term solution for the young people affected by the reversal of the program.“At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know. Their status is one of many immigration issues, such as border security and interior enforcement, which Congress has failed to adequately address over the years,” Ryan said.‘PEOPLE OF LAW’Trump made a crackdown on illegal immigrants a centrepiece of his 2016 election campaign and his administration has stepped up immigration arrests. But business leaders say immigrants make important economic contributions and that ending the DACA program would hit economic growth and tax revenue.There are deep divisions in the United States over the fate of roughly 11 million illegal immigrants, most of them Hispanics. As a presidential candidate Trump promised to deport all of them.He left the DACA announcement to Sessions, with whom the president has had tensions arising from the investigation into potential collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.“We are people of compassion and we are people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration law,” Sessions said.DACA was created by Obama after the Republican-led Congress failed to pass comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform legislation that would have created a pathway for citizenship for certain illegal immigrants.The programme protects nearly 800,000 young men and women from deportation and allows them to work in the United States legally. The group is a small fraction of the overall population of illegal immigrants in the United States.DACA supporters argue that the people covered under the program were raised and educated in the United States and were integrated into American society, with scant ties to their countries of origin. Opponents of the program argue against amnesty for illegal immigrants and say that such immigrants take jobs from US citizens.The programme’s demise would mark the latest action by Trump to erase key parts of his Democratic predecessor’s legacy.This includes pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord, abandoning a 12-nation Pacific trade deal, seeking to dismantle the Obamacare healthcare law, rolling back environmental protections, reversing parts of Obama’s opening to Cuba and removing protections for transgender people.last_img read more

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8 stupendous scuba and snorkel tours around the Islands

first_imgTags: Hawaii Share Tuesday, December 6, 2016 8 stupendous scuba and snorkel tours around the Islands Visitors to Hawaii have so much to discover on land, with the island chain’s rich cultural heritage, plethora of land activities and tours, historical sites and of course, beaches!But Hawaii visitors also have entirely new destinations to discover ‘under the sea’ around the Islands of Aloha. Hawaii’s waters are heavily protected, and teeming with ocean life, making for some of the best underwater exploration in the world. For travellers with scuba diving and/or snorkeling in mind for their next Hawaii visit, here are some of the top scuba/snorkel tour operators around the islands.Island of HawaiiBig Island Divers in Kailua-Kona offers a wide range of scuba tours as well as PADI Certification for those itching to dive into the scuba world on Hawaii Island. The company also offers a PADI refresher course for scuba divers who need to brush up on their skills.One of Big Island Divers’ longest-running scuba tours is its Kona Manta Ray Night Dive. During this once-in-a-lifetime experience Big Island Divers use large lights to attract plankton, which calls forth teams of mantas for a feast while divers watch and observe these graceful creatures enjoying a meal. Visit bigislanddivers.com.For another option on Hawaii Island, Kona Boys offers snorkel tours around the Kona Coast, with its Morning Magic Kealakekua Bay Kayak & Snorkel or its Midday Meander Kealakekua Bay Kayak & Snorkel tours. For travellers booking a package with all the fixings, Kona Boys’ Day at the Beach Package: Kamakahonu Cove provides kayak, snorkel, stand-up paddle board gear as well as a guide for the day all from Kona Boys’ beach shack at Kamakahonu Beach in downtown Kona. Visit konaboys.com for more.KauaiKauai’s Seasport Divers provides a range of tours for scuba enthusiasts, including shore dives, first-time dives, dive boats and NITROX — which extends the No Decompression Limit (NDL) bottom times on dives. There are programs available for non-certified divers to experience the thrill of the underwater world with an instructor by their sides, keiki (children’s) classes and for experienced divers, small-group boat dives led by highly-trained guides. Seasport Divers’ shore dives, exploring interesting coral formations, have been voted one of the Best Shore Dives in the Pacific by Scuba Diving Magazine. Visit seasportdivers.com for more.MauiSail Trilogy has the perfect option for underwater enthusiasts looking for something a little more in-depth than snorkelling without committing to an all-the-way scuba dive. The company’s Lahaina Picnic Snorkel and Sail includes snorkelling or an upgraded SNUBA option with lunch on a small group tour. This tour also includes personal instructions and whale watching during the Humpback winter migration (from December-April). Visit sailtrilogy.com for more.AliʻI Nui’s numerous snorkelling activities range from The Turtle Point Snorkel Sail (five hours), Morning Snorkel Molokini 1-Stop Sail (five hours), Morning Snorkel Sail Deluxe (six hours) or the Afternoon Turtle Snorkel (three hours). Each activity gives you the opportunity to participate and discover the ocean. Huka diving, a surface supplied air system that allows the participant to go down under the water while breathing on a surface supplied air system is also available for those who aren’t scuba certified. Visit aliinuimaui.com.Aboard the Pride of Maui, one of Hawaii’s ultimate scuba vessels, there is 2,500 feet of space on two sprawling decks. From the Pride of Maui guests can snorkel, SNUBA and scuba dive in some of the world’s most pristine waters. For visitors during whale-watching season, not only will they have the chance to observe humpback whales but they may also be able to hear humpbacks singing from under the sea. Visit prideofmaui.com.OahuLiving Ocean Scuba offers an ideal scuba tour for first-timers – its Introductory Hanauma Bay Shore Dive. This tour is offered in small groups of four or less with one scuba instructor per group. Shore diving at Hanauma Bay is the only way scuba enthusiasts can explore this reef as state laws prohibit any boats from entering the bay. Other tours offered by Living Ocean Scuba include its Turtle/Reef Boat Dives and Wreck/Reef Boat dives. For more visit livingoceanscuba.com.The Discover Scuba Diving option with Ocean Legends is another option for first-time scuba divers. This all-day experience starts with an academic briefing and video, followed by a two-tank afternoon boat charter to enjoy two scuba dives with a skilled PADI instructor. Visit oceanlegends.com.center_img Posted by Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Playing the long game American Airlines outlines its future

first_img Monday, October 2, 2017 DALLAS-FORT WORTH — The future was the theme at American Airlines’ Media and Investor Day on Thursday. “Today is all about investing in the future,” proclaimed Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO, American Airlines to a group of media and investment companies in Dallas-Fort Worth.The world’s largest airline has seen some massive profits since it merged with US Airways in 2013. From 1978 to 2013, both airlines (AA and US Airways) combined saw a collective profit of just $1 billion over the 35 years. In comparison, post merger, the company saw $19.2 billion in profits between 2014-2017.It could be said the company is going through a cyclical lift in profits similar to the massive earnings it saw in the 1990s before a big dip in the 2000s. Parker wanted to ensure investors that’s not the case. “Our industry and our airline have been materially and permanently transformed,” he said.In the past the company could be accused of being reactive to customers; now, it’s taking a long-term view and isn’t going to let competitors or short-term events like Irma affect its strategy.‘Playing the long game’ continued to the be theme of the event with product upgrades, human resources, and technology being identified as the keys to the future success.Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO, American AirlinesBuilding a world-class product“Bet on American [Airlines] because it’s a winning bet,” said Robert Isom, President of the airline. And with aggressive competitors, especially ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCCs), AA is banking on its network, which as the world’s largest can’t be beat.With nine hubs that are strategically placed across the U.S. (Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami, Charlotte, Washington, Philadelphia and NYC), the airline is able to offer 350 destinations, 1,050 nonstops and cater to 35,000 markets.It has also continued to grow the network through partnerships with British Airways and Iberia in Europe, helping it to cater to important business routes like London and Madrid.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoThis year AA is also growing in Asia Pacific with a $200 million stake in China Southern, announced in March, as well as a strenghtened relationship with Qantas.With its partnerships AA has a hulking 950 destinations, 2,800 nonstops and caters to 50,000 routes.“On a peak day we have half a million passengers,” said Isom, attributing the airline’s competitive advantage to its growing network.With capacity in place, AA has looked to cabin classes to cater to more client needs. In response to the pressure put on from ULCCs, AA created Basic Economy, a stripped back version of Economy where clients won’t be allowed a carry-on, seat assignment or upgrades.“Basic economy is not a price-cut,” assured Isom. “We offered a product that was far superior than anything else” referring to their pricing compared to other ULCC airlines. “Basic Economy allows us to better compete.”Isom was quick to note that it’s “still a superior product”, with snacks and drinks, service recovery and the option of Wi-Fi, all of which are major benefits compared to ULCCs.Looking at the other end, AA also has Main Cabin Extra and Premium Economy classes, which have helped filled the gap between clients who want more comfort than Economy but can’t afford the price point of Flagship Business or Flagship First.“Our strategy is working,” said Isom, with surveys showing that customer satisfaction is higher and revenue has grown. AA has also added 13,000 new small- to medium-sized business accounts.There’s a lot more to comeUpgrading its aging fleet is a priority for American Airlines, which has the largest fleet modernization project in aviation history starting in Q, 2017. At this time, the first of 550 narrow-body aircraft will be retrofitted with new seats, satellite Wi-Fi, in-seat power and larger overhead bins.AA will also be younger airline with the delivery of 496 new planes and retiring 469 planes. Without significantly increasing plane numbers, it is looking towards operating bigger planes, being able to offer more premium product,s and having more fuel-efficient planes to increase capacity and profits.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaOn the sales end, AA is adding 132 members to its sales team by 2018, and has also relaunched its groups product with simplified contracts and more flexibility. Also, this past March the airline launched a New Distribution Capability (NDC).l-r: Steven Johnson, Executive Vice President – Corporate Affairs; Maya Leibman, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer; Robert Isom, President; Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO; Derek Kerr, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Elise Eberwein, Executive Vice President – People and Communications.A team effortAA boasts 120,000 team members with an estimated two million customer interactions a day. After United’s dragging incident, the airline is more than aware how important service interactions are. “Everyone has a weapon called a cellphone now,” said Elise Eberwein, Executive Vice President – People and Communications.Initiatives that have been implemented have increased salaries by 39%. Plus AA has introduced health programs that have seen an average 8-pound weight loss per team member, and has increased maternity leave to 10 weeks from 6 weeks.AA will also be seeing a lot of change within its ranks, with 70% of its pilots looking to retire in the next 10 years.TechnologyBeyond the NDC upgrade, the airline recently launched a new app for clients that offers flight information, baggage notifications, a dynamic rebooking tool and ‘iSolve’, which allows AA to offer vouchers or other benefits to cater to complaints.Beyond the app, Maya Leibman, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer reinforced the airline’s commitment to cyber security. It continues to invest in the area to make sure it’s not the next airline to be in the news over a security breach.AA is also looking at machine learning so that when unforeseen issues happen, its back-end programs can switch gears without needing a team to rebuild it.“We are incredibly excited and bullish about our future,” said Parker, who’s confident that the airline isn’t just the world’s largest airline, but also the best. Michael Smith ‘Playing the long game’, American Airlines outlines its future << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Share Posted by Tags: American Airlines, Profit Report, Trend Watchlast_img read more

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