Why is Bruce Lisman spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ‘start a conversation’?

first_imgby Taylor Dobbs vtdigger.org Campaign for Vermont became a player on the political scene in Vermont late last year ‘thanks to the largesse of a single wealthy individual and an aggressive local media advertising blitz.But eight months since a group of prominent conservatives founded the 501(c)(4) organization, its purpose remains unclear.What is Campaign for Vermont, and more to the point, what is the group trying to accomplish?Photo of Bruce Lisman by VTD/Josh LarkinThe founder of Campaign for Vermont, Bruce Lisman, says the organization doesnâ t adhere to a political point of view, but the group has pushed for fiscally conservative ideas outside the traditional Republican Party construct.Campaign for Vermont, through hyperlocal radio advertising, has indirectly criticized â Montpelier,’a.k.a. Democrats who hold the governorâ s office and the Statehouse, for â out-of-control’state spending. It has also chastised the executive and legislative branches for not being transparent enough about the way taxpayer dollars are used by state government.In a recent email missive to supporters, Lisman wrote that â Campaign for Vermont believes that higher property taxes, increased electric rates and a risky health care scheme will strangle a vibrant economy.âLisman, a native of Burlingtonâ s North End, and a former executive with Bear Stearns and J.P. Morgan, says he is trying to draw attention to the stateâ s financial future through a â campaign for a prosperous economy.âListen closely to GOP candidates such as Randy Brock, who is running for governor, and Wendy Wilton, who is making a bid for state treasurer, and familiar Campaign for Vermont themes emerge.After months of Campaign for Vermontâ s focus on â prosperity,’Brockâ s media consultant Robert Wickers said in a statement that â [a]s Vermonters learn more about Randy, and hear his positive message of economic growth and prosperity, this race will tighten.’Brock and Campaign for Vermont have also criticized the growth of the budget this year (an overall rate of 6.3 percent).In the groupâ s first radio advertisement, Lisman said, â Itâ s time to use modern technology to make Vermont state government totally transparent and accountable to every citizen.âIn the groupâ s first radio advertisement, Lisman said, â Itâ s time to use modern technology to make Vermont state government totally transparent and accountable to every citizen.âWilton, at her campaign launch for treasurer, echoed that sentiment: â Information is key, but itâ s the ease of that information thatâ s really important too. Because itâ s got to be readily available, youâ ve got to be able to see it and understand it, and it canâ t be in some really arcane spot within the stateâ s website where youâ d never find it even if you put it in a search function. Itâ s got to be somewhere where people can see it easily.âJake Perkinson, chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party, suggests that Campaign for Vermont might be a â launching pad’for a political candidate ‘most likely Lisman himself. Though he is the face of the organization ‘his portrait is on email messages and the website ‘Lisman has said repeatedly that he has no interest in running for office.Kevin Ellis, a communications strategist with KSE Partners and a supporter of Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin, says Campaign for Vermont is the Vermont GOPâ s ad hoc messaging machine, laying the electoral groundwork for Republican Party candidates this election cycle.Bruce Lisman, right, and Mary Alice McKenzie, at a daylong conference called “Crunch Time,” at Vermont Tiger’s fourth annual symposium in May 2010. VTD file photo/Anne GallowayHe also speculates that Lisman wants to be a kingmaker. Ellis says Campaign for Vermontâ s ubiquitous advertising could be a potential prelude to financing candidates in 2014 ‘in the event that Vermontâ s campaign finance limits are knocked down in the courts.â Sure, he may give money to candidates,’Ellis said. â But I think he is a millionaire from Wall Street who came to Vermont and wanted to be a player. Spending this money is the best and fastest way to do that. Spending this money makes him a political player, scares the heck out of Democrats and makes him the toast of the Burlington cocktail party circuit among Republicans. But that is a long, long way from playing on the varsity team against pros like Peter Shumlin, Bernie Sanders and Pat Leahy. To steal a phrase from David Plouffe, those guys play chess. Lisman is still playing checkers.âHitting the airwavesLisman, 65, is the mind and the money behind Campaign for Vermont, which has launched 19 radio, print and web advertising campaigns since Nov. 23, 2011 ‘all of which were paid for out of his own pocket. As of April 25, he had spent $194,343 on advertising alone, according to a lobbyist filing with the Secretary of Stateâ s office.With nearly ubiquitous radio spots playing up to six times per day on more than 10 stations statewide, the advertising blitz has drawn attention to Lisman from his detractors and supporters alike.Until Jan. 1 of this year, Campaign for Vermontâ s advertisements advocated broadly for transparency, â defining prosperity’and a vibrant economy. One ad series, for example, encouraged Vermonters to donate to the United Way during the holiday season. Though Campaign for Vermontâ s website, which included specific talking points was online at that point, the messages the radio ads promoted were not topical.As the legislative session began, so did the assaults on Democratic initiatives for alternative energy, Vermontâ s health care exchange plan, and the state budget. Campaign for Vermont launched two new radio ads, one criticizing Vermontâ s health care exchange ‘â Vermontâ s Act 48 will create an exchange with only one or two [health insurance] carriers. Thatâ s not choice,’Lisman says in the advertisement ‘and another calling for accurate and realistic analysis of renewable energy and its costs before the state moves forward.Lismanâ s biggest issue is the economy, especially with regard to state taxes and spending priorities, shortly followed by transparency. The former Wall Street executive wants the Legislature to give taxpayers estimates for proposed programs, so lawmakers and citizens alike can make decisions based on real cost analyses.Advertisements like this ‘most of which advocate for conservative economic policies ‘ran throughout the session. Eventually, Vermonters learned where Campaign for Vermont stood on specific topics: against the cloud computing tax, against the health care exchange and against the potential impact of high costs associated with renewable energy on consumers and businesses.Lismanâ s biggest issue is the economy, especially with regard to state taxes and spending priorities, shortly followed by transparency. The former Wall Street executive wants the Legislature to give taxpayers estimates for proposed programs, so lawmakers and citizens alike can make decisions based on real cost analyses.In an ad launched Feb. 7, Lisman encouraged Vermonters to ask four questions of their legislators on Town Meeting Day: â Are the policies they are considering based on facts and common sense? Will the policy lead to shared prosperity? Is the policy being developed in a non-partisan manner? And lastly, are they listening to you?’In a run of newspaper advertisements in 26 weeklies across the state the campaign reiterated the same message the week before Town Meeting Day.A screenshot of the Campaign for Vermont webpage where Lisman lays out the “Lisman Perspective.”Campaign for Vermont, Lisman says, is based on principles all Vermonters can agree on.â Can you tell me if there is something wrong with building a vibrant economy?’Lisman said in an interview. â Honestly?âThe answer, presumably, is no. But Lisman, his past and the views he promotes have made some Vermont politicos uneasy.A scrape with the DemocratsCampaign for Vermont came under fire from the Vermont Democratic Party after launching a Feb. 6 radio advertisement which they claimed was an attack ad advocating against the re-election of Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin ‘a candidate in an upcoming election.In a Feb. 21 letter to Attorney General William Sorrell, Jesse Bragg, then the executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party, alleged that Campaign for Vermont had spent more than $500 on the ad and hadnâ t registered with the Secretary of State as a political committee. Bragg claimed the advertisement â can only be viewed as furthering the purpose of opposing [Shumlinâ s] candidacy and/or influencing the outcome of the governorâ s election.âLisman argued the Campaign for Vermont was not a political committee, and the Vermont Attorney Generalâ s Office ultimately ruled in his favor, determining that the advertisement was compliant with all relevant laws. â The Attorney Generalâ s Office concluded that the ad addressed a policy issue that is currently pending in the Vermont Legislature and did not demonstrate that its purpose was to support or oppose a candidate for Vermont office,’Sorrellâ s office announced in a press release.Lisman argued the Campaign for Vermont was not a political committee, and the Vermont Attorney Generalâ s Office ultimately ruled in his favor, determining that the advertisement was compliant with all relevant laws.The issue was settled, but Lismanâ s group whose stated purpose was to put â progress ahead of partisanship’had driven a wedge between Republicans and Democrats.Jack Lindley, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, said the complaint was â part of the arrogance of single-party power,’and called the charge â frivolous.’He commended Campaign for Vermont for its work.â Their thinking is pretty clear and their activities with regard to bringing in a better Vermont are well-intentioned and directly to the point,’Lindley said.Perkinson, the Vermont Democratic Party chair, had other thoughts about the groupâ s obligations under its 501(c)(4) IRS status.â They should be able to make those arguments,’he said, â but I donâ t think they should be able to cloak those in the name of education and social welfare for the common person when theyâ re anything but.âThe Democrats fear something bigger from Lisman et al. down the line. Perkinson says he thinks Campaign for Vermont is in the early stages of becoming a vehicle for electing Republican candidates.â In my estimation, either a stalking horse or â ¦ a launching pad for someone who wants to be involved in politics going forward,’he said.Such a move would be possible, depending on the outcome of a case pending in Vermont District Court, where the Vermont Right to Life Committee is suing Attorney General Sorrell over the criteria defining a political committee. Right to Life argues the financial reporting requirements triggered by spending $500 or more on ads relating to an election are too burdensome. The organizationâ s hope is to skirt the triggers as long as most of its spending is not on such ads.If the Vermont Right to Life Committee, which is represented by James Bopp, an attorney who has made fighting campaign finance limits in states across the country his personal quest, according to Seven Days, wins the case, the state would have to allow unlimited ‘and untraceable ‘spending by groups like Lismanâ s and KSEâ s Vermont Priorities.Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, the assistant attorney general defending the stateâ s interests, says itâ s possible the Vermont Right to Life decision would allow groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on election-based advertising as long as such ad expenditures were not the groupâ s â major purpose.âUnder IRS rules, a 501(c)(4) is a â social welfare organization,’but according to the IRS â [s]eeking legislation germane to the organizationâ s programs is a permissible means of attaining social welfare purposes. Thus, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may further its exempt purposes through lobbying as its primary activity without jeopardizing its exempt status.’Launching ads for or against a candidate does not qualify as social welfare spending, but 501(c)(4)s are permitted to engage in political activity, â so long as that is not its primary activity.âIf the organizationâ s â major purpose’(Carnahan says that would likely be a function of where funds are dedicated) is not ads seeking to influence a Vermont state election, it would not be required to register with the Secretary of State as a political committee, even if it spent over the current $500 limit.â There wouldnâ t be any transparency, the public wouldnâ t know where the funds were coming from,’Carnahan said.Unlimited spending rules in North Carolina allowed a wealthy businessman, Art Pope, to finance a conservative takeover of the state legislature in 2010. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/10/111010fa_fact_mayer(link is external))When asked whether he intended to cause a similar political sea change in Vermont, Lisman said no. He wants Campaign for Vermont to foster debate ‘not financially back candidates.â Is what weâ re doing for somebodyâ s personal gain, or is there something bigger, more important, to discuss?’Lisman said. â And I think itâ s the latter, and I think that because ‘and let me just be clear ‘I think this is a worthy effort that we should dedicate, in my case some money and time, and try to capture peopleâ s attention on some issues weâ re discussing.âThe spending spree on local advertisingMoney indeed. An April 25 filing with the Secretary of Stateâ s office gave the figure: $212,343. Lisman confirmed that all the money came from him, with $15,000 paid to lobbying firm Capital Connections, $3,000 in â other expenses,’and $194,343 paid out in advertising (Disclosure: Campaign for Vermont paid $5,382 for a sponsorship placement with VTDigger.org in March 2012, and Lisman personally gave two $5,000 donations to the Vermont Journalism Trust in 2011.)In an effort to track the groupâ s spending across the state, VTDigger went to the offices of WDEV, WORK, WWFY, WSNO and WVMT where the stations disclosed advertisement spending by Campaign for Vermont. All radio advertisements were billed to Marianne Campbell, media director ofMcLaughlin & Associates, a New York firm that features on its website a Washington Times quote dubbing it one of the best Republican polling outfits.In a separate trip to WVTK in Middlebury, the station declined to give the information. When VTDigger asked Lisman to disclose the groupâ s spending on advertising with WVTK, he declined.Though the group has advocated heavily for transparency in its advertising, Lisman said its April 25 filing of lobbyist disclosure forms with the Secretary of State was enough. The forms report spending by and payments to lobbyists by category including advertising, telemarketing and other expenses.â Weâ ve disclosed the important things so that the public can see what weâ re doing, and the law didnâ t require us to do it,’he said.â These questions are of interest,’Lisman said, â but we choose not to disclose it, and itâ s for the radio stations to decide.âNeither Campaign for Vermont nor the radio stations it advertises with are legally required to disclose the ad spending information, and Campaign for Vermont, Lisman says, was not required to file lobbyist disclosure forms with the Secretary of State. The group filed, Lisman said in a press release, because â Campaign for Vermont believes in transparency and is disclosing, as promised to the public, our expenditures related to direct and indirect lobbying for the period January 1 to March 31, 2012.âLisman said he refused to disclose specific spending with certain radio stations because the â realm of detail’for such spending was too specific.â These questions are of interest,’Lisman said, â but we choose not to disclose it, and itâ s for the radio stations to decide.âAt WVMT, a conservative talk radio station where Campaign for Vermont spent $25,380, the group received roughly $2,000 in free advertising. Station owner and manager Paul Goldman said he donated the free advertising because of how much Campaign for Vermont had spent.From Willard Street to Wall StreetLisman was born and raised in Burlington, where he lived with his brother and their parents, Irving and Lily Lisman, on North Willard Street. Lisman fondly remembers his fatherâ s refrain about his home neighborhood: â My father always said â the best thing about the North End is leaving,’and we did,’Lisman said. When Lisman was still in elementary school, the family moved to the South End.Lisman graduated from Burlington High School and went on to UVM, where his mother worked as a secretary to earn discounted tuition for him and his brother.After graduation, Lisman moved to New York City and got a job as a file clerk at the financial firm Bear Stearns.â I didnâ t start in a management position or in a senior position,’Lisman said. â I started as a basic clerk, which is filing different colored pieces of paper from different-colored files. And the guy who transitioned me, which took probably less than 90 seconds to train me, I think he hung out for 10 minutes, said, â Try not to think too much, because when you do that, youâ re going to put the reds in the pink, and theyâ re really gonna get pissed at you.â âLisman climbed up through the ranks of the company, from clerk to trading assistant to junior analyst to analyst to director of research, and finally he became co-head of Global Equities.Bear Stearns folded as a result of the 2008 financial collapse, and its leadership faced criticism for reckless trading practices, but Lisman says the criticisms are baseless.â As the crisis took hold, you could see clearly it wasnâ t one company or one type of transaction or even one country that you could assign a central locus of where the crisis began,’Lisman said. â Thatâ s an absurd, simplistic, and probably ideologically oriented point of view. Thereâ s nothing out there that says that. People who say that are making a great leap. We were, as I look at it, a canary in the mineshaft.âLisman says his division had no part in the problems that brought Bear Stearns down.â Our business had nothing to do with the failure of the world,’he said. â It was, I wouldnâ t say plain vanilla, but we were large and profitable almost to the very end.âThe economic crash of 2008, as Lisman sees it, was the result of the world becoming too used to an extended period of financial growth.â It was wretched excess at the end of a very long economic cycle that made people too comfortable,’he said. â Public policy people comfortable that they could continue on, and banks and lenders thinking that things are great and theyâ re smarter than the next guy pursuing policies that had some wretched excess attached to it, too much greed, could still work. It didnâ t.âVermont in the new worldThe 2008 collapse changed the world, Lisman said, in ways many leaders are still failing to grasp. The new world Vermonters live in needs a renewed focus on economic prosperity, he says. In his return to Vermont, Lisman aims to give his home state a nudge in the right direction.After he left Bear Stearns, Lisman became head of global equities at J.P. Morgan before retiring in 2009 and coming back to Vermont full time. Lisman felt the need to reconnect with the state, so he spent 18 months touring Vermont, going to peopleâ s homes and talking to them about the issues they found important.â I had a set of rules. One is, I had a map and Iâ d mark every road I went on, but more importantly Iâ d visit people I didnâ t know,’he said. At the end of each meeting, Lisman says he asked his hosts who else would be interesting to talk with. â So I met with businesspeople, small entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, college presidents, people who ran restaurants, you name it. In all maybe 400 people in a period of 18 months.âOn his marathon meet and greet, Lisman came across Tom Pelham, retired deputy secretary of administration under Republican Gov. Jim Douglas and head of the Department of Finance and Management for Democrat Gov. Howard Dean. Campaign for Vermont, Lisman says, was born out of his first meeting with Pelham.â He gave me a tour of his house and only when we were sitting staring at each other across the living room did he say â So what do you want?’and I gave him my ideas and we shook hands and he became my first partner in Campaign for Vermont,’Lisman said.The group is based on Lismanâ s premise that the world has changed, and its leaders havenâ t caught up.â I thought, around us Washington wasnâ t getting it,’Lisman said. â I mean after the crisis, they werenâ t figuring out that something had changed, Europe certainly still hasnâ t gotten it â ¦ and I didnâ t think many of the states were getting it. Our state in particular wasnâ t getting it. They were marching to the same tune they had been. Maybe thatâ s right, but I thought we oughta find out if itâ s right.âCampaign for Vermont was incorporated Sept. 22, 2011, with Lisman, Pelham and Mary Alice McKenzie listed as officers.With over $200,000 in expenditures by April 25, some wonder how far Lisman will reach into his deep pockets to fund the campaign.Eric Davis, professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, says that based on how much he has spent so far, Lisman is on course to spend $1 million by the time elections roll around in November.Davis says he thinks that as much as Lisman preaches non-partisanship, Campaign for Vermont aligns with the right.â I would say that while Campaign for Vermont is not formally or organizationally affiliated with the Republican Party, but in terms of the issues,’the two groups see eye to eye.â [Lisman] would like to see Randy Brock elected for governor, but he cannot say in his commercials â vote for Brock’or â vote against Shumlin,â ‘because such an ad would trigger campaign finance laws.With the session over and Campaign for Vermontâ s three to six ads per month seeming to slow down, the groupâ s future seems unclear, even to Lisman.â Iâ ll be interested to see whether the group continues in the 2014 election cycle,’Davis says, â if Shumlin is re-elected and the Democrats still have a majority.âLisman says he put more money into Campaign for Vermont initially to gain recognition and make the group known, but making predictions based on those numbers would be a mistake.â I understand limitations, but remember we had to start bigger. Iâ m not sure you should extrapolate those kind of numbers anyway,’he said.One thing Lisman seems sure of is that Campaign for Vermont is here to stay.How we fund it or how we shape ourselves is largely a function of how we do, how successful we are,’Lisman said. â We could finish tomorrow if everybody agreed our themes are the themes to grab onto for the betterment of our citizens and considering the world around us.ââ We started last Thanksgiving,’he said. â Weâ re still here, and I anticipate this Thanksgiving weâ ll still be here and the Thanksgiving after that, I think weâ ll still be here. How we fund it or how we shape ourselves is largely a function of how we do, how successful we are. We could finish tomorrow if everybody agreed our themes are the themes to grab onto for the betterment of our citizens and considering the world around us.âLisman says he doesnâ t see that happening, so he plans on sticking with Campaign for Vermont. Funding is a different question, one he admittedly has no answer for.â How we do it from here Iâ m not prepared to say and Iâ m not sure I know, but weâ ll still be here,’Lisman said.Though those words were about Campaign for Vermont, they may resonate with many of the groupâ s critics who say Lisman has pointed to a lot of problems without naming solutions. Lisman says such criticism plays a vital role in democracy.â My heroes on a personal level,’Lisman said, â would be people who see something wrong and either raise their hand or say something. The first line of defense in a democracy are people ‘whether theyâ re sane or not ‘whoâ ll see something thatâ s wrong and do something about it. Unlike other places where things are grand injustices and no one is brave enough to stand up.âCampaign for Vermont is not necessarily saying the state is approaching these issues the wrong way, Lisman says, just that citizens and lawmakers alike should be aware of the costs and successes of all programs, and keep a critical eye out for failures.â We should at least start by saying â This doesnâ t look right.’This may ultimately be the best weâ ve got, but letâ s have a robust debate about it,’Lisman said.The ultimate goal, Lisman says, is to get people talking about Campaign for Vermontâ s central issues, all of which revolve around the stateâ s prosperity.â If there were a robust two-party system, I guess, they might have this debate and we wouldnâ t do this,’Lisman said. â But thereâ s no debate on big issues.âMay 30, 2012 vtdigger.orglast_img read more

TD Bank, community raise $2,329 to support the Montpelier Food Pantry

first_imgVermont Business Magazine As part of its “Bring Change” campaign, the TD Bank on Main Street hosted a community coin counting event that raised $2,329.84 for the Montpelier Food Pantry. Customers, neighbors and others all came to donate their spare change, which TD matched up to $2,000 in coins counted. When community member Paul brought in his saved coins amounting to $42.57, he commented, “When folks are in need the community rallies together. I’ve had this coin sitting around for some time and when I read in the paper that TD was doing this for the Montpelier Food Pantry it didn’t take me long to figure out this is the place to bring my change to help out my community.”TD Store Manager Ian Squirrell (L) and Kristen Andrews, executive director of the Montpelier Food Pantry at a community coin counting event that raised $2,329.84According to TD Bank Manager Ian Squirrell, “Two young children come in and donated $55 in change that they had been saving for some time. They heard about Bring Change on the radio and they told their parents, ‘Let’s go to the TD Bank and donate our change so people who have less than us can have food for the holidays!'”It’s not always easy to eat healthy, especially when you have limited access to food and a low income. Montpelier Food Pantry (MFP) confronts this cycle of injustice head on. MFP meets basic needs by providing free, high quality, nutrient dense food and prepared meals to individuals, families, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities. By providing cooking and nutrition education in addition to meals, MFP works to not just feed, but also uplift the vulnerable in the Montpelier area. This positivity is especially important during holidays like Thanksgiving.If you’d like to donate or to learn more about the organization, please visit: justbasicsvt.org(link is external).About Bring Change:With 500 events planned through 2016, this program promises to raise more than $1 million in support of local organizations. To see a video recap of where the campaign is to date, please visit https://youtu.be/4uAR0CiRLCM(link is external).  To learn more about the program, visit www.tdbringchange.com(link is external).Montepelier, VT (Friday, November 6, 2015) – TD Banklast_img read more

Credit unions report strong 2Q loan growth

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by. Michael MuckianCredit union lending during the second quarter of 2014 was the strongest it’s been since 2005, according to Callahan & Associates’ 2Q14 Trendwatch.The Washington, D.C., consulting firm today released data showing that credit union lending overall saw nearly 10% year-over-year growth during the second quarter. Specifically, credit unions enjoyed double-digit growth in first mortgages, new auto loans, used auto loans and member business lending. Consumer loan originations increased 60% compared to the first half of 2013 and 90% compared to the first half of 2012. continue reading »last_img read more

Barber, Nash continue growing process

first_imgBarber, Nash continue growing processAaron Barber and Simon Nash were hurt by poor third rounds this weekend. Matt PerkinsJuly 20, 2005Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintHUDSON, Wis. – In a field of players who all have their minds set on making it to the PGA Tour, two former Minnesota men’s golfers were content with making the cut during the weekend at the 2005 Scholarship America Showdown.Aaron Barber and Simon Nash took to Troy Burne Golf Club in pursuit of their first tour victory, and things looked good going into Saturday, with both golfers sitting tied for 20th at 3-under-par. But Saturday would be their undoing, as they both fell out of contention with tough third rounds in the Nationwide Tour event.But they both said it was the experience under their belts that got them this far. And both of their experiences this weekend can be tied to their years as Gophers.Barber’s opportunityBarber shot a second-round 67 on Friday after Thursday’s even-par 70. He said he felt good about his game going into the weekend at Troy Burne, a course former Gophers golfer and longtime PGA pro Tom Lehman helped design.But things went downhill for Barber on Saturday, and he finished with a 7-over round of 77.But Barber said the process he has been going through on the tour this year is similar to the process he once went through at Minnesota.“I didn’t even play my first two years there,” Barber said. “I mean, I couldn’t even break 80.”But Barber said he couldn’t say enough about what it did for him to have the support of his coaches and fellow teammates to stick with his game.In the end, Barber finished out his career with the Gophers as an All-American in 1996.Out of college, Barber first played on the Canadian Tour, and from there jumped to the PGA Tour in 2003. It was a jump that was only amplified by the fact that, in one of his first tournaments, he was paired with Annika Sorenstam.Barber said he is now trying to make the process of getting back to the PGA Tour less strenuous by taking his time, much like he did with the Gophers. “I owe everything I have to the opportunity I was given at Minnesota,” he said. “Everything.”Nash compiling resumeNash, a native of Australia, hasn’t played in many U.S. tournaments since graduating in 2003, but he is still trying to get his name out there. And it seemed like it worked through his first two rounds.After Friday’s round, Nash received praise from both his round partners and spectators – who mostly told him how fun it was to watch him. Gophers assistant coach Andrew Tank, who caddied for Nash, said Nash just has a pretty swing, and that’s why everyone loves watching him play.“He is a really solid ball striker,” Tank said. “The flight of his ball in the air is strong and straight. When he is on, he is a lot of fun to watch.”As the group following him got increasingly bigger Friday, Nash remained collected.Sitting at 1-over with just six holes left in Friday’s round and the projected cut at even, Nash birdied four consecutive holes and parred the last two to finish safely under the cut.“I got in a groove out there, and that always feels good,” Nash said. “This course is playing amazing, it’s beautiful.”Like Barber, Nash fell Saturday with a round of 74. But Nash said the pressure he dealt with late Friday was similar to the pressure surrounding the Gophers’ 2002 NCAA Championship run.Tank said seeing former Gophers come through in those situations is exactly what they’ve come to expect.“Our goal is to help those guys have the opportunities to be in those spots,” Tank said. “We want them to have that pressure, to play against some of the best competition around. We do that, we’ve done our job.”last_img read more

Q3 Phoenix office report shows vacancies falling, rents rising

first_imgThe Phoenix office of JLL released its Q3 2016 Phoenix Office Report, highlighting benchmarks and includes the lowest vacancies since 2008 and still-rising rents. Still, Phoenix remains one of the most affordable office markets on the West Coast.“More companies are recognizing that Phoenix has an extremely strong labor pool and very affordable cost of living,” said JLL Managing Director John Bonnell. “All three of these factors are big wins for companies seeking to escape the high prices of Northern California or other primary markets.”“New York-based Oscar is an example of this,” said JLL Executive Vice President Ryan Bartos, referencing the health insurance company’s recent move into 95,000 square feet at The Circuit, at 615 S. River Dr. in Tempe. “Oscar was excited that Phoenix not only provided affordable real estate but that cool, creative office product was available in our market. The company is also very focused on providing their employees with a strong quality of life and liked the fact that Phoenix has so much to offer.”Companies like Oscar have helped reduce overall total vacancy in metro Phoenix to 19.7 percent in the third quarter, down significantly from the recessionary peak of 28.1 percent and signaling continued improvement in the market. At 2.6 million square feet year-to-date, total positive net absorption is also on track to exceed 3 million square feet by year’s end – the highest level of absorption since 2005, when 4 million square feet was absorbed.These factors are creating some notable submarket trends, including:Asking rents have increased 50.8 percent in South Scottsdale since 2011.The South Scottsdale submarket represents the largest percentage gain in average asking rent rates in metro Phoenix over the past five years.Asking rents increased from $20.73 per-square-foot (Full Service Gross) in 2011 to $31.26 per-square-foot as of third quarter 2016.The Galleria Corporate Centre had the highest asking rent growth of all properties in metro Phoenix, rising from $21.12 to $38.00 per-square-foot – or 80 percent – over the same period.The Tempe submarket is a close second, with an increase of 34.6 percent.In Tempe, average asking rates grew from $21.63 to $29.12 per-square-foot – or 34.6 percent – over the same time period.Hayden Ferry Lakeside currently has the highest asking rent in the entire Valley, at $45.00 per-square-foot.However, Phoenix still remains one of the most affordable office markets on the West Coast.Phoenix is home to one of the most affordable office markets in the West, behind only Salt Lake City and Sacramento, with a current asking rent of $22.68 and $23.52 per-square-foot (Full Service Gross), respectively.The asking rent in San Francisco is 204 percent more expensive and Los Angeles is 57 percent more expensive than Phoenix, making the Valley a popular destination for companies looking to expand and relocate outside of California.last_img read more

McCarthy partners with ACS to train veterans for careers in construction

first_imgMcCarthy Building Companies, Inc. announces a new partnership with Adaptive Construction Solutions, Inc. (ACS) to recruit and train veterans for careers in the construction trades, addressing a national workforce shortage. Together, the two organizations will identify and enroll veterans with military occupational specialties in an apprenticeship program that can lead to full-time employment with McCarthy. As a leading renewable energy builder, McCarthy will pilot the ACS program on its utility-scale solar and renewable energy projects.Through the ACS program, each apprentice builds skill through the combination of on-the-job training, mentorship and technical instruction. The curriculum is designed to help veterans understand and develop the skills and knowledge essential to be successful on construction projects as part of the firm’s national craft workforce training initiative. McCarthy will actively participate in the training through deployment of its accredited apprenticeship program, instruction and mentorship.“Construction requires teamwork and a commitment to quality and safety – skills inherent in the work veterans regularly encountered in their former roles,” said Jessica Adame, McCarthy national outreach manager. “We’re excited to support our veterans and offer them the opportunity to train and grow their careers with McCarthy, especially in the rapidly growing renewable energy industry.”With a long history of supporting and building facilities for America’s armed forces, McCarthy is committed to recruiting, training, and helping veterans build rewarding careers. In addition to helping veterans build a career, McCarthy’s partnership with ACS helps address construction’s industry-wide shortage of talented craft professionals.McCarthy Craft Learning Manager Franklin Brown, a veteran with a long history of supporting training and outreach programs for veterans, was instrumental in the partnership’s formation.“Being able to make McCarthy more attractive to veterans through training programs like this enhances our veterans’ skill sets and helps them become more effective as a group working within McCarthy.” said Franklin. “The program will help replicate the kind of structure our veterans are used to in their military careers while getting very specific training within a growing industry.”The McCarthy Renewable Energy & Storage group focuses on utility-scale solar installation projects as well as other renewable energy projects across the U.S. In 2021 the firm will be constructing more than 1.8 gigawatts of clean energy projects across the nation and expects to hire nearly 1,000 craft professionals for the construction of the projects that year alone. The renewable energy sector is one of the fastest growing in the world and is anticipated to provide new and developing career opportunities for years to come.“The renewable energy sector is helping communities around the country meet their clean energy goals while also creating much-needed jobs and sparking economic development.” said McCarthy Renewable Energy & Storage executive vice president Scott Canada. “As we build high-quality clean energy facilities to power our nation’s sustainable future, we’re also helping our veterans develop careers in construction and inviting them to contribute to building our country’s new power infrastructure. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to welcome veterans into the industry and train them for a rewarding career.”Since 2010, McCarthy’s Renewable Energy & Storage group has completed more than 50 utility-scale clean energy projects in communities across the country, delivering a combined capacity of more than 4.4 gigawatts of clean energy production and over 320 MW/720MWh of energy storage. Nationally, McCarthy provides Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) services on utility-scale solar and battery storage projects for private solar developers and utilities, helping them deliver cost-effective clean energy to the communities they serve.last_img read more

Family genetics study reveals new clues to autism risk

first_imgShare on Twitter A study of 2,377 children with autism, their parents and siblings has revealed novel insights into the genetics of the condition.The findings were reported May 11 in Nature Genetics.By analyzing data from families with one child with autism and one or more children without the condition, the researchers collected new information on how different types of mutations affect autism risk. The genetic data was obtained from exome sequencing, which looks at only the protein-coding portions of the genome. Share Share on Facebook Pinterestcenter_img Email LinkedIn Significant progress in the past five years has been made in identifying the genetic risks for autism, particularly by finding that newly appearing gene mutations can contribute to the risk of autism. These mutations are called de novo because they appear in the child but not in either parent. Not all cases of autism however, can be attributed to de novo mutations.To try to learn what else might confer genetic susceptibility to autism, researchers examined risk from other types of mutations, including those inherited from the mother or father.In the study, the researchers quantified the autism risk of inherited gene mutations that truncate the formation of proteins. They were particularly interested those proteins which are usually unscathed in the study subjects unaffected by autism.The researchers found that the effect was strongest when they observed mutations transmitted from mothers to sons. This observation suggests a female may harbor such mutations without developing autism, but when the mutations are passed along to her male offspring, the boys are at risk of the condition.The study also provides one of the most complete genetic pictures of autism to date. The scientist were able to compare both small mutations of single base-pairs in DNA as well as larger deletions and duplications of the genome.“The ability to examine these two types of genetic variation in exome sequencing data is the first step toward obtaining a more complete genetic picture at an individual level in the context of autism,” noted Niklas Krumm and Tychele Turner, both of the University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences, and lead authors of the study. Evan Eichler, University of Washington professor of genome sciences and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, was the senior and corresponding author.The authors pointed out that understanding the biological pathways affected by the gene mutations, and the abnormal proteins these genes produce, could help in the search for diagnostics and treatments for autism. Such knowledge could eventually lead to the discovery of biomarkers for identifying various types of autism or suggest therapeutic targets for future treatments.“These findings are a major advance in understanding the genes that play a role in autism,” said Raphael Bernier, clinical director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center, associate professor at the University of Washington and one of the researchers in the study. “Knowing more about these genes will set the stage for personalized medicine by allowing for targeted treatments specific to an individual. This gives parents more insight and information about their child’s condition. “last_img read more

The five most addictive substances on Earth – and what they do to your brain

first_imgPinterest Share on Facebook LinkedIn What are the most addictive drugs? This question seems simple, but the answer depends on whom you ask. From the points of view different researchers, the potential for a drug to be addictive can be judged in terms of the harm it causes, the street value of the drug, the extent to which the drug activates the brain’s dopamine system, how pleasurable people report the drug to be, the degree to which the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, and how easily a person trying the drug will become hooked.There are other facets to measuring the addictive potential of a drug, too, and there are even researchers who argue that no drug is always addictive. Given the varied view of researchers, then, one way of ranking addictive drugs is to ask expert panels. In 2007, David Nutt and his colleagues asked addiction experts to do exactly that – with some interesting findings.1. HeroinNutt et al.’s experts ranked heroin as the most addictive drug, giving it a score of 2.5 out of a maximum score of 3. Heroin is an opiate that causes the level of dopamine in the brain’s reward system to increase by up to 200% in experimental animals. In addition to being arguably the most addictive drug, heroin is dangerous, too, because the dose that can cause death is only five times greater than the dose required for a high. Emailcenter_img Heroin also has been rated as the second most harmful drug in terms of damage to both users and to society. The market for illegal opiates, including heroin, was estimated to be $68 billion worldwide in 2009.2. AlcoholAlthough legal in the US and UK, alcohol was rated as the second most addictive substance by Nutt et al.’s experts (scoring 2.2 out of a maximum of 3). Alcohol has many effects on the brain, but in laboratory experiments on animals it increased dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system by 40-360% – and the more the animals drank the more dopamine levels increased.Some 22% of people who have taken a drink will develop dependence on alcohol at some point during their life. The WHO has estimated that 2 billion people used alcohol in 2002 and more than 3m people died in 2012 due to damage to the body caused by drinking. Alcohol has been ranked as the most damaging drug by other experts, too.3. CocaineCocaine directly interferes with the brain’s use of dopamine to convey messages from one neuron to another. In essence, cocaine prevents neurons from turning the dopamine signal off, resulting in an abnormal activation of the brain’s reward pathways. In experiments on animals, cocaine caused dopamine levels to rise more than three times the normal level. It is estimated that between 14-20m people worldwide use cocaine and that in 2009 the cocaine market was worth about $75 billion.Crack cocaine has been ranked by experts as being the third most damaging drug and powdered cocaine, which causes a milder high, as the fifth most damaging. About 21% of people who try cocaine will become dependent on it at sometime in their life. Cocaine is similar to other addictive stimulants, such as methamphetamine – which is becoming more of a problem as it becomes more widely available – and amphetamine.4. Barbiturates (‘downers’)Barbiturates – also known as blue bullets, gorillas, nembies, barbs and pink ladies – are a class of drugs that were initially used to treat anxiety and to induce sleep. They interfere with chemical signalling in the brain, the effect of which is to shut down various brain regions. At low doses, barbiturates cause euphoria, but at higher doses they can be lethal because they suppress breathing. Barbiturate dependence was common when the drugs were easily available by prescription, but this has declined dramatically as other drugs have replaced them. This highlights the role that the context plays in addiction: if an addictive drug is not widely available, it can do little harm. Nutt et al’s expert panels rated barbiturates as the fourth most addictive substance.5. NicotineNicotine is the main addictive ingredient of tobacco. When somebody smokes a cigarette, nicotine is rapidly absorbed by the lungs and delivered to the brain. While Nutt et al’s expert panels rated nicotine (tobacco) as only the 12th most addictive substance, there are reasons to believe that nicotine is a very powerful addictive drug.More than two-thirds of Americans who tried smoking reported becoming dependent during their life. In 2002 the WHO estimated there were more than 1 billion smokers and it has been estimated that tobacco will kill more than 8m people annually by 2030. Laboratory animals have the good sense not to smoke. However, rats will press a button to receive nicotine directly into their bloodstream – and this causes dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system to rise by about 25-40%.By Eric Bowman, Lecturer in Psychology and Neuroscience , University of St AndrewsThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Share Share on Twitterlast_img read more

NEWS SCAN: E coli bill criticized, African Flu Alliance set to launch

first_img Bill to ban non-O157 E coli in meat draws fire from industrySen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., recently introduced a bill to ban six non-O157 strains of pathogenic Escherichia coli in meat, which quickly drew criticism from the American Meat Institute (AMI), a trade group. The proposed law would add the six strains (O26, O45, O103, O11, O121, and O145) to the list of adulterants in meat, require meat companies to test for them, and give the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) authority to find and regulate other toxic strains in the future, Gillibrand said in a press release. Declaring the strains adulterants will require the USDA to begin testing for them and recommend best testing practices to companies. The bill, which has no cosponsors, was introduced May 27 and referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, according to the Library of Congress. The AMI responded to the bill by saying in a May 27 statement, “We don’t believe that an act of Congress can make these bacteria disappear.” The group expressed puzzlement that the bill targets only meat, in the wake of a recent E coli O145 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. The AMI asserted further that no “confirmed outbreak” of any of the six strains has ever been linked to a meat product, that there is no test available to detect the six strains, and that the USDA has said existing food safety systems work equally well for all pathogenic E coli strains. The USDA has been considering for 3 years whether to classify the six non-O157 strains as adulterants, according to a recent New York Times report. The agency has voiced reluctance to do that until it has tests that can detect them quickly, which are expected to be ready by the end of next year, that report said.May 27 AMI statement African Flu Alliance to hold first meeting this weekAiming to strengthen influenza surveillance and control efforts in Africa, African health officials and representatives of international organizations and other groups will hold the first meeting of the African Flu Alliance Jun 3 and 4 in Marrakesh, Morocco, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced recently. The new group seeks to promote collaboration and information exchange among stakeholders in Africa and beyond, the WHO’s Regional Office for Africa said in a May 31 statement. “We know that influenza has a significant impact on morbidity and mortality throughout Africa, but unfortunately, we don’t have a great deal of data that shows this,” Dr. Keiji Fukuda, pandemic flu adviser to the WHO director-general, said in the statement. Dr. Sylvie Briand, head of the WHO’s Global Influenza Programme, added that competing health needs and a lack of information have combined to prevent steps to reduce the impact of flu in Africa. A key goal of the meeting is to raise awareness of the need to strengthen flu surveillance capacity and to develop intervention strategies. Besides African national health officials, groups participating in the new alliance include the Association pour la Medicine Preventive, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US National Institutes of Health, the German Technical Cooperation, Foundation Merieux, the Institut Pasteur International Network, the Fogarty International Center, and the Programme for Appropriate Technology (PATH).May 31 WHO news release Jun 2, 2010last_img read more

News Scan for Apr 26, 2017

first_imgStudy finds raw milk causes 840 times more illness than pasteurizedAs more and more Americans consume unpasteurized, or “raw,” milk and cheese, a new study in Emerging Infectious Disease found that the unpasteurized products cause 840 times more illnesses and 45 times more hospitalizations than their pasteurized counterparts.Raw milk products are touted by alternative health enthusiasts, and an increasing number of states have decriminalized their sale and distribution.The study used data from 2009 to 2014 to estimate outbreaks caused by Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC), and Listeria monocytogenes in raw cow’s milk and cheese made from cow’s milk. Researchers used outbreak data from the National Outbreak Reporting System from 2009 through, and found a total of 87 outbreaks causing 750 laboratory-confirmed illnesses and 215 hospitalizations. Unpasteurized dairy products caused 96% of all outbreaks analyzed.The authors said these numbers underrepresent the true burden of risk as they only considered four pathogens and many mild illnesses caused by the consumption of raw milk likely went unreported.”Unpasteurized products are consumed by a small percentage of the US dairy consumers but cause 95% of illnesses,” the authors concluded. “Therefore, outbreak-related illnesses will increase steadily as unpasteurized dairy consumption grows, likely driven largely by salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis.”Apr 26 Emerg Infect Dis study Household contact case of MERS in Saudi ArabiaThe Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) identified another case of MERS-CoV related to the Wadi Aldwasir hospital outbreak.The patient was a 26-year-old expatriate man who is in stable condition. The patient was asymptomatic and listed as a secondary household contact of a previously reported case.The new cases raise Saudi Arabia’s overall total to 1,597 Middle East Respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases, 661 of them fatal. Three people are still being treated for their illnesses.Apr 26 MOH update H9N2 avian flu infects baby in ChinaChina has reported a new H9N2 avian influenza case to the World Health Organization (WHO), involving an 11-month-old boy from Gansu province. The WHO noted the details in its monthly report on flu transmitted between animals and humans, spanning cases reported between Mar 16 and Apr 20.The boy’s symptoms began on Feb 6, and he was hospitalized with mild symptoms and recovered. An investigation revealed that he had been exposed to backyard poultry before becoming ill. The WHO said the illness marks the first H9N2 infection from Gansu province, which is located in northwestern China. H9N2 is endemic in Chinese poultry.China’s last H9N2 infection also involved a baby, a 7-month-old girl from Guangdong province who contracted her infection in the middle of December. Unlike H7N9, many of the H9N2 cases have been in children.Apr 20 WHO flu at the animal-human interface report New polio vaccine shows promise in phase 2 trialA new inactivated polio vaccine with a reduced amount of antigen was found to be safe and effective during a phase 2 trial of the drug in the Dominican Republic. Results from the trial were published today in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.Inactivated polio vaccines (IPVs) are a cornerstone of the polio eradication campaign because, unlike oral polio vaccines, they carry no risk of vaccine-related disease. Introducing IPVs into the developing world can be a costly task, however. This study measured the effectiveness of IPV alone and with various levels of aluminium hydroxide (Al) adjuvant as a dose-sparing measure.More than 800 healthy infants over the age of 6 months were recruited to receive one of four IPV formulations (3-times reduced dose of Al, 5-times reduced dose, 10-times reduced dose, or IPV without Al) at 6, 10,  or 14 weeks of age. All three IPV-Al formulations were non-inferior to IPV, with absolute differences in percentage seroconversion for polio virus types 1, 2, and 3 to be above 94.6%.”The results from our trial strongly support a dose sparing strategy of three doses of aluminium hydroxide adjuvanted 1/10 IPV-Al,” the authors wrote. “The results of this phase 2 trial should be a first step to help achieve and sustain polio eradication in the long term by addressing the issue of availability of effective vaccine choices.”Apr 26 Lancet Infect Dis study Apr 26 Lancet Infect Dis editorial Chikungunya spreads to second Pakistani provinceThe WHO and Pakistan’s health ministry over the past few weeks have been investigating a chikungunya outbreaks in Balochistan, the second area in the country to report the disease. An earlier outbreak in Karachi has been under way since December.A statement from the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean regional office yesterday said that, of 1,962 suspected cases in Balochistan, 28 blood samples have tested positive so far. A sudden rise in acute febrile illnesses in the city of Gwadar prompted the investigation and testing. A field investigation suggests that Balochistan’s first cases came from Karachi via travel and that subsequent cases reflect local transmission.In Karachi as of Apr 14, a total of 1,419 suspected cases have been reported so far, none of them fatal.The WHO said because chikungunya is new to the populations, there is a fear that a large number of cases could occur within a short period without the control measures needed to contain the disease.Apr 25 WHO EMRO statementlast_img read more