The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 Volume XVIII, Number 27

did ya know?

Did Ya Know?... Today from 5:30-7:00 PM there is a Benefit BBQ Dinner at Grace Episcopal Church located at Chestnut & Howard Streets. $10 per adult, $6 for children 12 & under. Everyone welcome. For more information, call 417-358-4631.

Did Ya Know?... On July 29th, St. John’s is having a Mended Hearts Meeting starting at 7 PM in their Cardiac Rehab Classroom. For information, call 417-625-2033.

today's laugh

Investment counselor

An investment counselor decided to go out on her own. Business kept coming in, and pretty soon she realized that she needed to begin to interviewing young lawyers.

"As I’m sure you can understand," she started off with one of the first applicants, "in a business like this, our personal integrity must be beyond question." She leaned forward. "Mr. Mayberry, are you an honest lawyer?"

"Honest?" replied the job prospect. "Let me tell you something about honest. Why, I’m so honest that my father lent me $15,000 for my education, and I paid back every penny the minute I tried my very first case."

"Impressive. And what sort of case was that?" asked the investment counselor.

The lawyer squirmed in his seat and admitted, "He sued me for the money."

A Chronological Record of Events as they have Transpired in the City and County since our last Issue.

Their Troubles Ended.

Probate Judge D.D. Kerr had retired to his couch and was dreaming peacefully last night when he was awakened about 10:30 by a couple from Carl Junction who wished to be married. The request was soon completed with and the happy couple departed.

They were George H. Snyder and Lula S. Bailey, and a goodly per cent of both city and county officials figured in the preliminaries before the affair was brought to a successful termination. County Recorder Sigler and his assistants worked in the office until after 9 o’ clock and had just gone home when the prospective bride and groom arrived for a license. They searched for some time for a proper official and finally found some of the night police, who directed them to Mr. Sigler’s residence.

When they again came up town they were still in need of the services of someone having the authority to tie the final knot.

  Today's Feature

Fortune Gone, Harris Back.

A short reception will be held immediately following this evening’s regular City Council meeting to express gratitude to Council member Bill Fortune for his ten years of service on the Council. Fortune is moving out of state and has submitted his resignation effective the close of this evening’s meeting.

Former Council member Mike Harris will assume the Second Ward Council seat vacated by Fortune. Harris has served as a Council member at various times for over a decade himself. He served as First Ward Council member for several years before a redistricting placed his home in the Second Ward. He one of few, if not the only person, to serve in two wards without having to relocate.

The Council is also scheduled to vote on a resolution that would recognize members of the Bykota Church, the Forest Park Baptist Church and the Fairview Christian Church for their efforts to improve the community.

Bykota church members organized work days and spent several Sunday mornings mowing, clearing brush, cutting up trees and picking up trash. Members of Forest Park Baptist and Fairview Christian Church members joined the efforts to help the elderly, shut-ins and handicapped citizens and worked to improve foreclosed properties and abandoned vacant lots.

Alaska Looks Again at Stimulus Dollars.

by Christopher Flavelle, ProPublica

Lawmakers in Alaska are meeting today to override former Gov. Sarah Palin’s veto of $28 million in stimulus dollars, Anchorage news station KTUU reports. At issue is a program run by the federal Department of Energy that offers states money to make buildings more energy efficient, upgrade street lighting and meet other goals. According to KTUU, Alaska is the only state not approved for the program; lawmakers have until Sept. 30 to apply for the money.

The stimulus may giveth in California, but budget cuts taketh away. The Sacramento Bee reports on a strange situation in that city’s old railyard, where stimulus money is paying to help move the train tracks as part of a redevelopment plan. At the same time, state budget cuts threaten to put the brakes on a housing project on the same site. The project is but one example of California’s difficult economic situation, where $85 billion in incoming stimulus money is balanced against last week’s $30 billion cut to the state budget.

State lawmakers are already worrying about what happens when the stimulus package is spent, reports’s Stephen C. Fehr. A new survey suggests that the bulk of states used stimulus money to fill at least a fifth of their budget gaps, raising questions about how states will handle the winding-down of the stimulus two years from now. Fehr adds that Alabama, Kentucky, Washington and Wisconsin were able to avoid a fall in operating funds in fiscal 2009 — but those states are likely to face a drop in spending once the stimulus is over.

Joe Biden defended the stimulus package in an op-ed Sunday in the New York Times, arguing that the stimulus is ahead of schedule and that many projects are coming in under budget. Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell apparently wasn’t convinced; speaking on CNN, McConnell said, "I think we can fairly, safely declare it a failure."

Do you feel like you, too, should be entitled to some stimulus money? A company called Grant Writers Institute is there to help you — or so it says. According to the Arizona Republic, the Federal Trade Commission says the company suggested that it could guarantee consumers a $25,000 stimulus grant from the government — and all people needed to do was purchase a $59 booklet on how to get their money. A judge has issued a restraining order against the company.

Tracking Stimulus Jobs Is No Easy Job.

by Amanda Michel and Christopher Flavelle,


The Obama administration has put great emphasis on the number of jobs that will be created or saved as a result of the stimulus package — and so have his critics. ProPublica has reported the difficulty of created targets for stimulus jobs. However, to judge by New Hampshire’s attempts to measure the number of jobs paid for by the stimulus, getting an accurate gauge of those jobs, even after the fact, is far from easy.

This isn’t easy even in the best of times. In the construction industry specialized crews rotate from site to site, and few work on-site full-time for the duration of a project.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation, or NHDOT, each month releases an employment report for the stimulus money it receives. The report provides a list of projects under way, as well as both the number of employees and total number of hours worked on each project. According to the June report, 915 people worked on road and bridge construction projects, and worked a total of 28,103 hours.

At this point, however, the numbers start to get tricky. The U.S. Department of Transportation calculates the number of employees working on its projects using a formula: It divides the total number of hours worked by 173 (the number of typical work hours in June), which produces something known as the "full-time equivalent" (FTE) of one job. The FTE is important, because it will be used this fall by the Office of Management and Budget to count officially the number of jobs funded by the stimulus package.

When the NHDOT divided the total number of hours worked in June on stimulus projects (28,103) by the number of work hours in the month (173), the result was the equivalent of 162.5 full-time stimulus jobs — less than 20 percent of the 915 employees the NHDOT reported to be working on stimulus projects during the same month. Is the larger number wrong? It’s hard to know for certain.

First, contract administrators employed by the state may oversee more than one stimulus project, meaning that they can be double or triple counted in stimulus employee counts.

For example, Bill Cass, NHDOT’s director of development, explained that one administrator is overseeing four projects, and has staff supporting him. Both the administrator and his staff would have been counted four times each in the report’s employment numbers.

Second, many construction workers rotate from site to site, perhaps working part-time on a stimulus project or working on several at a time. As a result, head counts — another possible way of tracking the number of jobs created — can also lead to inflated employee counts.

A case in point is a New Hampshire contractor called Pike Industries. Of the 915 employees listed in NHDOT’s June report, 620 are identified as Pike employees. But Pike president Christian Zimmerman said the company employs only 450 people in New Hampshire. However, because Pike needs to report the number of employees who work on each ARRA site every month, the company employee count — like NHDOT’s count itself — can include the same worker multiple times. In fact, Zimmerman estimates that only 225 of his employees are working on a stimulus project at any given time — one third the number that appears in the NHDOT report.

The challenge of counting stimulus-funded construction jobs isn’t limited to New Hampshire. On Wednesday, Kent Millington, a transportation commissioner for the Utah Department of Transportation, questioned the accuracy of the job numbers reported by his department.

Millington told the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Brandon Loomis that the Utah DOT’s estimate of six to seven thousand jobs saved or created by stimulus funding — an estimate produced by a federal formula — was likely inflated. According to the Tribune, Millington said some of the construction workers on stimulus projects would be counted twice because they would be employed on one contract and then another.

Millington told the Tribune that the estimate was as high as it was "because the stimulus money was supposed to create all these jobs."

Adan Carrillo, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation, told ProPublica that Millington had a "misunderstanding" about the way the numbers were reported. However, when pressed on whether the department’s numbers could double-count some workers, Carrillo declined to rule it out. Millington’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Just Jake Talkin'

Sometimes after the new wears off, we have a tendency to take things for granted.

I can remember gettin’ a pair of "engineer" boots as a kid. Wore ‘em ever’where. I soon learned, however, that my mother felt the same pride in the new couch. My boots, and especially the shinny buckle they bore, were expressly denied from bein’ worn while I was sittin’ on the couch watchin’ the Mickey Mouse Club. If I wanted to sit on the couch, I had ta take off the boots. I soon learned the advantages of stretchin’ out on the floor in front of the tv.

Like most kids, I prob’ly outgrew those boots ‘fore they wore out. I’d have ta guess there were a few times they made it on the upholstery, after time, and did some damage ‘cause I never got another set a footwear with buckles.

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’

  Weekly Columns


By Freddy Groves

Missed Exam Stalls Benefits Claim

When you put in a claim for benefits, one of the first things that happens is that a Veterans Service Officer will ask for a compensation and pension exam, and will fill out the forms for it.

If for some reason you don’t have that C&P exam, it’s called an incomplete exam request. The Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs recently released a report on the problem of incomplete exams.

It found that a good portion of exam requests were incomplete because veterans didn’t show up for appointments. Here’s why:

In some cases the veterans weren’t called to set the appointment times -- they were simply told via mail when those appointments would be. When veterans wanted to schedule for a different time or date, those exams weren’t always rescheduled. And in some cases, when veterans requested different appointment times, the exam requests were just canceled instead.

Some exams weren’t done because veterans weren’t contacted by phone to schedule the appointments and the mailing address on the notice was wrong. After missed appointments, at three of the four facilities studied, no one called the veterans directly to try to set another appointment time. In other cases, appointments were rescheduled or just plain canceled without notifying the veterans.

Rule of thumb: Know your status at all times. If you’ve got a claim in for benefits, keep on top of the scheduling of your exams. Be proactive. Don’t expect a phone call or mail, because you might not get it. Make the calls yourself. Verify that they’ve correctly entered your address and contact phone numbers into the system.

In 2008, a probable 24,000 missed exams could have been avoided.

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