Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Talk Softly but Carry a Big Stick!


The following was received from John McCain.. Senator McCain and Senator Graham have a far better understanding of world affairs than President Obama and John Kerry. Once upon a time we were a respected leader of the free world and now we are not taken seriously by anyone.Unilateral disarmament and meaningless threats embolden our enemies and scare away our friends.

My Friend,

Last week, I questioned Secretary Kerry about the evolving situation in Russia & Ukraine. As I predicted, the situation continues to deteriorate and our nation's leadership and actions are severely lacking.

My hero Teddy Roosevelt used to say "talk softly but carry a big stick," but what Sec. Kerry and the leadership of our nation is doing is "talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact a twig."

You can count on me to continue to demand answers and fight for our nation's safety. We cannot continue down this path of appeasement.

Earlier this week there was an article in The Washington Post which also features the video about my questioning. I wanted to share it with you, and let you know that I will never stop fighting for America's security.


John McCain

Distinguished pol of the week

By Jennifer Rubin
Washington Post
April 13, 2014

It is no contest this week for the most noteworthy political figure. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) takes the honor for eviscerating the Obama administration's foreign policy and reducing Secretary of State John Kerry to pouting - and then to leaking about his pouting to the media.

It is worth watching again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7kSlkU4wKU

In a few brief minutes, McCain revealed how devoid of common sense and realism is the President Obama-Hillary Clinton-John Kerry foreign policy. But his tour de force did more than simply provide satisfaction to the administration's critics. One can hope that in revealing the administration's failure that he will awake and embolden his colleagues to act deliberately to restore military funding, enact sanctions against Iran (so that when no deal is reached in July the package can go into effect) and redouble efforts to support our European allies and check Russian aggression.

There is a great awakening here and in Europe (note the sensible rhetoric and newfound toughness of NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen ("We in Europe have disarmed too much, for too long. We can't continue to cut defense budgets deeply while Russia is increasing her defense budget. . . . It has created a growing gap across the Atlantic between the U.S. and Europe. Today the U.S. spends around 75% of the overall NATO defense investment. I'm concerned that in the long run it will weaken the trans-Atlantic alliance if this trend continues.")

McCain as much as anyone (with the exception of Vladimir Putin) has helped to shake the slumber from the West's eyes. In doing so he's gotten Congress to step up to the plate and his own party to douse the ambers of isolationism. For that we can say, well done Sen. McCain.

Paid for by Friends of John McCain

Saturday, April 12, 2014

City Council Meeting March 24 Agenda

A representative of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division [SCEMD] and the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] will be with us at ·tonight's meeting to discuss the Winter Storm PAX Public Assistance process implemented by FEMA and administered by SCEMD. 
Since our preparations for Winter Storm PAX began on February 10, we have been documenting and categorizing our expenditures for potential reimbursement from FEMAOur kick-off meeting with our FEMA Project Caseworker was on April 3 and we are currently preparing our FEMA paperwork to submit for storm-related expensesOur understanding is there are several different reimbursement levels based on the FEMA work categories and the time period in which the work takes place.
During the first 72 hours of the President's emergency declaration, we can be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of our FEMA-approved emergency protective cost measures. Examples of this work include our Emergency Operations Center preparations, overtime payments related to emergency preparation, and costs associated with our Smith-Hazel Recreation Center's use as a temporary shelter.
We are participating in a FEMA Alternative Procedures Pilot Program for accelerated debris removal. This includes debris removed during the first 72 hours of the storm. We believe there are several advantages to this program compared to the standard FEMA reimbursement program. The costs of collectinghaulingprocessingand disposing of debris will potentially be reimbursed up to 85 percent for the first 30 daysinstead of the standard reimbursement rate of up to 75 percent. Those costs accrued during days 31 through 90 will potentially be reimbursed up to 80 percent of our costs. Debris removal costs accrued during days 91 through 180 will be reimbursed at the standard reimbursement rate up to 75 percent. Another advantage of this program is the ability to retain all income derived from recycled debris to count as part of our match for FEMA assistance.
Since we are only using City staff for City debris collection, the Alternative Procedures Pilot Program can potentially reimburse us for both straight time and overtime costs of all our staff and other cities that worked with us with our debris collection from February 18 through March 28It is important to remember that the salaries paid to our City staff are already part of our FY 2013-14 budget and we stand to get a significant portion of these salary-related expenses reimbursed.
Volunteer time is being recorded by our staff; so we can claim it as part of our FEMA match as well. Volunteers complete a form detailing the work completed and the hours spent. The hours are then multiplied by a FEMA-approved rate. This number can be applied to our cost-share of cleanup expenses.
FEMA also reimburses us an hourly rate for all City equipment used for debris removal as well as emergency protective measures. This reimbursement includes hourly rates for equipment
Such as trucksroad gradersvehiclesdebris removal equipmentand chainsaws. Our staff has worked diligently to keep track of employees working with individual vehicles and pieces of equipment to ensure we claim full eligible reimbursement from FEMA.
We are beginning the process of filing paperwork with FEMA to be reimbursed for our expensesExperience has shown us that our citizen’s benefit through reimbursement of money earmarked for salaries and benefits that is already allocated through our annual budgeting process.
APPOINTMENTS AND DISCUSSIONS TO CITY BOARDS, COMMISSIONS, AND COMMITTEES: Councilmember Price has recommended the appointment of Charles Matthews to the Planning Commission; the reappointments of Joanne Saunders to the Arts Commission; Angela Key to the Accommodations Tax Committee and Helen Simpkins to the Senior Commission. 
SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING OF AN ORDINANCE TO APPROVE A SUBLEASE BETWEEN AIKEN AVIATION ENTERPRISES AND HILTON HEAD FLYERS, LLC. :  Mike Laver, owner of Aiken Aviation Enterprises, Inc., our Fixed Based Operator [FBO] at the Aiken Municipal Airport, has requested City Council approval of a sublease of space to Hilton Head Flyers, LLC. This lease will allow operation of a flight school at the airport. Our Aviation Commission has reviewed this sublease and recommends that it be approved by City Council.  Under state law and our lease with the FBO, an ordinance by City Council is required to approve subleases of City-owned property. 
SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING OF AN ORDINANCE TO ANNEX 1.2 ACRES ON HUDSON ROAD AT CORNER OF HUDSON ROAD AND LINDSEY DRIVE AND ZONE IT RS-6 RESIDENTIAL SINGLE-FAMILY:  Property owner D & M Enterprises owns 1.2 acres at the corner of Hudson Road and Lindsey Drive. Representatives of D & M have petitioned to annex this vacant lot into the Aiken City limits.  The proposed zoning for this property is RS-6 [Residential Single-Family]. D & M Enterprises wants to subdivide the property into four lots and construct four single-family residences on it.  This application has been reviewed by our City Planning Department staff and our Planning Commission.  Planning Commission took up this request at their March 11, 2014 meeting. After their review and public comments, they voted unanimously to approve these annexation and zoning requests. 
SECOND READING OF AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE ZONING ORDINANCE REGARDING ELECTRONIC READERBOARDS:  Our Planning Commission has held several public meetings and reviewed your Action Agenda item to recommend whether any amendments are needed to our Zoning Ordinance regarding electronic readerboards. A memo from Planning Commission Chair Liz Stewart is attached. After their review, Planning Commission recommended Zoning Ordinance amendments to include: 
·Add a definition of "Electronic Readerboard" to Chapter 10. 
·Set standards for electronic readerboards including: 
-- Zoning districts where they are allowed. 
-- How often the message may change and how any transitions may occur. 
-- Require signs to adjust automatically to ambient light conditions and limit their brightness. 
n Require signs to turn off in case of a malfunction. 
SECOND READING AND PUBLIC HEARING OF AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE FISCAL YEAR 2013-2014 BUDGET TO REPLACE THE CITIZENS PARK FIELD BACKSTOP DAMAGED BY WINTER STORM PAX:  Winter Storm PAX damaged the backstop at Citizens Park Field 5. It must be replaced in order to resume games on this field. Our preliminary research indicates that a majority of the cost to replace the backstop can be reimbursed by FEMA, since the damage was a direct result of PAX. Since the replacement cost was greater than $25,000, we advertised this project for sealed bids. We received three responses. Our apparent low bidder is Boyd Fence, a division of Maner Builders Supply. They submitted the lowest responsible bid of $29,781.83. We have sufficient reserve funds to temporarily offset this storm damage repair. We will be filing this expenditure as part of our FEMA reimbursement claims, and will make every effort to recoup this replacement cost. Since this field is used for baseball, softball, and soccer, we would like to replace this backstop as soon as possible. 
REQUEST BY SCANA TO PLACE TEMPORARY SIGNS: NEIGHBORHOOD ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM: SCANA Community Development Representative R. Scott Neely has written us to ask for temporary neighborhood signs to promote a free program to allow SCANA representatives to assist eligible Northside customers to improve energy efficiency in their homes. 
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO RESCIND ORDINANCE 04272009A REGARDING LEASED PROPERTIES IN CROSLAND PARK OWNED BY THE CITY OF AIKEN:  At a few City Council meetings, we have discussed the need to review city-owned property being leased in Crosland Park Subdivision. Councilmember Ebner requested that our City Attorney prepares an ordinance to end renting city-owned property in Crosland Park. Therefore, for Council consideration, is an attached Ordinance to end leasing of Crosland Park city-owned properties at such time that current tenants either vacate the property or purchase it outright. 
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE FISCAL YEAR 2013-2014 BUDGET TO CHIP AND PROCESS DEBRIS CAUSED BY WINTER STORM PAX: Winter Storm PAX damaged many trees in Aiken. As we continue to work to collect debris, we now need to begin the process of chipping it up. Our preliminary research indicates that we can be reimbursed by FEMA, since the damage was a direct result of Winter Storm PAX. Since the chipping cost will be greater than $25,000, we advertised this project for sealed bids. We received three responses. Our apparent low bidder is American Environmental and Disaster at $1.84 per cubic yard. With 103,395 cubic yards collected so far, chipping costs are projected to be at least $195,416.55. We have sufficient reserve funds to temporarily offset this storm damage chipping. We will be filing for payment for debris as part of our FEMA reimbursement claims, and will make every effort to recoup this cost. Because we are running out of room for debris placement, we want to get busy chipping as soon as possible. 
TUESDAY, APRIL 15 AT 6:00 P.M.:  Our Planning Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting in Council Chambers, Second Floor of City Hall, 214 Park Ave., SW.  A work session is scheduled for Room 204 at 5:00 p.m.   
THURSDAY, APRIL 17 AT 4:00 P.M.:  City Council will hold an Engineering and Utilities Department Budget Workshop in Room 204, City Hall, 214 Park Ave., SW. 
TUESDAY, APRIL 22 FROM 6:00 P.M. TO 8:00 P.M.:  SCE&G will hold a Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Program meeting at our Smith-Hazel Recreation Center. 
THURSDAY, APRIL 24 AT 4:00 P.M.:  City Council will hold a Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department Budget Workshop in Room 204, City Hall, 214 Park Ave., SW. 
MONDAY, APRIL 28 AT 7:00 P.M.:  City Council will hold its fourth Monday meeting in        Council Chambers, Second Floor of City Hall, 214 Park Ave., SW. 
TUESDAY, APRIL 29 AT 5:30 P.M.:  Our Equine Committee will meet in Room 204 of City Hall, 214 Park Avenue, SW. 
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30 AT NOON at Newberry Hall, the Mayor will host our annual Boards, Commissions, and Committees Appreciation Luncheon.  Councilmembers are invited to attend.  Please let me know if you will be able to attend this recognition of our volunteers and staff liaisons.  Please note the date change. 
For other events and happenings around Aiken, be sure to visit www.VisitAikenSC.com
WINTER STORM PAX CLEANUP PROGRESSES:  Our staff continues to make substantial progress collecting storm debris.  Our crews are now collecting debris from City streets only.  SCDOT subcontractors are collecting debris from State roads throughout our City.  Through April 4, City workers have collected curbside storm debris totaling 103,395 cubic yards.  SCDOT has not provided a statement of the amount of debris their contractor has collected in the city limits.  We have requested a report with the information they do have.  We have awarded a debris-chipping bid to American Environmental and Disaster Services of New Braunfels, Texas for $1.84 per cubic yard.  We are speaking with several vendors who are potentially interested in purchasing the chipped storm debris.   A bid opening for debris hauling will be on Tuesday, April 15 at 10:00 a.m.  Our FEMA Kick-Off meeting was held on April 3.  We are compiling our documents to submit for reimbursement of our expenses for the first 72 hours of emergency storm response and first 30 days of debris cleanup.   We are participating in a new pilot program that could potentially reimburse more than the 75% reimbursement we received from FEMA in 2004.  Federal and state emergency agency representatives are scheduled to appear at our Monday night meeting to present information about the work they are doing in Aiken and Aiken County. 
Any group or individual interested in volunteering can download a form from our website at https://www.cityofaikensc.gov/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2014/02/coa_work_site_sign_in_out_record.pdf
PENSION PLAN STRONG GROWTH CONTINUES:  Our self-funded employee pension plan continues to outperform market averages through February 28.  Our plan has realized an average annual return of 7.61 percent since its inception in August 1995.  Over the last five years, our plan has averaged a rate of return of 17.48%. 
FINANCE DEPARTMENT REPORTS SAVINGS:  Our annual Workers’ Compensation Insurance audit resulted in a $5,305.00 premium refund to us.  As recently as 2011, our annual premium was over $10,000.00.  Last year, we received a refund of $2,248.00.  Our refund this year is a credit to all of the safe work our staff routinely does throughout our City.  We also continue to verify that any independent contractors or vendors working for us carry all necessary general liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage as well. Our efforts monitoring these vendors have also resulted in a larger premium refund to us. 
RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION UPDATE:  Our Inspections Division issued building permits for the Dupont Landing community building and ten single-family residences.  Last week, the developer submitted 11 more permit applications for single-family construction at Dupont Landing.  When completed, this subdivision has been planned to have 44 single-family homes.  In Powderhouse Landing, permits were issued for five single-family residences for the second phase of the subdivision.  Construction on a community swimming pool has begun.  The developer plans to submit a permit application for a bathhouse to be built adjacent to this community pool. 
PUBLIC SAFETY PROGRAMS IN OUR NORTHSIDE:  Our first class of fourth grade boys graduated from Public Safety’s Bikes and Books Initiative.  These North Aiken Elementary students met once each week with our Public Safety Officers to read books, and then to learn about proper bicycle maintenance and repair.  This Safe Communities program uses bicycles released from our Public Safety’s evidence locker.  This effort promoted reading development, basic repair skills, healthier lifestyles, and offers a positive environment for all participants.  Our Public Safety Department hosted a Bike Rodeo with SCDOT, SCDHEC’s Eat Smart Move More Program, and Safe Kids Aiken County.  Approximately 55 people attended this event that was held at North Aiken Elementary.  Families enjoyed free hot dogs and drinks while children navigated a bicycle safety course.  Safe Kids Aiken County conducted car safety seat installations. 
CHANNEL 4 UPGRADE:  Our new Channel 4 equipment is almost ready as Atlantic Broadband upgrades to a digital broadcast signal.  This new equipment is expected to give us the ability to expand offerings such as web video on demand or television broadcasts if we purchase additional video recording and production equipment.  Once Atlantic Broadband’s digital conversion process is complete, older televisions without a digital converter box will be unable to view Channel 4.  
SHILOH SPRINGS RADIUM FILTRATION SYSTEM UPDATE:  Work is progressing on our Shiloh Springs radium removal project.  We are on schedule to comply with the 2010 consent order we entered into with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control [SCDHEC].  A new filtration system has been installed and water tank modifications are complete.  Filter start-up testing is expected to begin later this month.  SCDHEC will monitor the start-up testing and perform radiological testing.  Once testing is complete, hopefully this summer, an operating permit will be issued for our new filtration system. 
BID OPENINGS:  We have awarded our Virginia Acres Walking Track Resurfacing bid to ATC Site Construction of North Augusta.  They submitted the lowest responsible bid of $161,641.50. 
Our Debris Hauling bid opening will be on Tuesday, April 15, at 10:00 a.m. in our Administration and Finance Building, 135 Laurens Street, SW. 
Our Water Chemicals bid opening will be April 25 at 2:00 p.m. at the Engineering and Utilities Administration Building, 245 DuPont Drive. 
Our Request for Proposals for Audit Services for Fiscal Years 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 deadline is April 28 at 2:00 p.m. 
COMMERCIAL PROJECTS UPDATE: The following project plans have been received and are under review by our Inspections Division. 
     Center for Colon and Digestive Disorders, 103 Gregg Avenue 
     Carolina Musculoskeletal Institute, 399 Silver Bluff Road 
The following projects are under construction after receiving approval from our Inspections Division: 
     Dupont Landing Community Building, 109 Benedict Street 
     Longleaf Senior Village, 1245 York Street, NE 
     Powderhouse Landing community swimming pool project, 222 Sierra Drive 
     Carriage House Inn front porch remodeling project, 139 Laurens Street, NW 
     Applebee’s exterior remodeling project, 1360 Whiskey Road 
     Huddle House tower sign project, 3602 Richland Avenue, West     
COMMENDATIONS: Ken Wells of Atlanta complimented us on our Colleton Avenue Arboretum Trail and audio tour.  Ken and his wife were fascinated by the stories they heard on their cell phone as they walked along the majestic trees.  They were appreciative of our efforts and wished Atlanta had a similar tour.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Important Message from Dr. Ben Carson

I encourage everyone to read the following and subscribe. Dr. Carson is a remarkable man.

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Please join me as a charter subscriber to the hottest free weekly online magazine for America’s new generation of black conservative leaders.

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America is the land of dreams, and it has fulfilled the dreams of so many people from so many places. As a child, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. And by working hard, embracing my mother's values and seizing opportunity, I was able to become a neurosurgeon. But I worry that today's generations have been lulled into a complacency that is destroying the promise of The Dream.
The ruling elite has convinced too many young adults that it's OK to stay at home and live in your parents' basements playing video games or aimlessly roaming the streets with friends. After all, you can get a monthly check, a free cell phone and health insurance from Uncle Sam for doing nothing. Opportunity has been replaced by despair. Embracing character, values, marriage and family has been ridiculed. Government dependence has been substituted for self-reliance. And mediocrity has replaced excellence.
I want you to join me today in demolishing this culture of failure and standing up to the media elite, who for too long have treated black Americans as a monolithic bloc addicted to a single political dogma. We need a new media source that embraces hard work, moral character, family values, good education and self-reliance and inspires the next generation with role models who have cast off the chains of mediocre expectations and proven that the American dream is alive and well.
That's why I have joined friends like Armstrong Williams, Rev. A.R. Bernard, Juan Williams and others to create American CurrentSee, a new type of digital magazine that gets delivered every Sunday to your email inbox and works on your computer, smart phone or tablet. It will arm you for this fight by boldly addressing wrongheaded entitlement dependency and chronicling how big government's well-intentioned nanny state has created lasting pathologies like broken families, overtaxed businesses, under-performing schools and crime-ridden neighborhoods.
If you missed the first edition of American CurrentSee , it’s not too late to join the fight against a new form of bigotry and intolerance creeping into the mainstream media. Read all about it in the newest edition, where we document the enormous pushback against our effort to press a debate about defeating mediocrity, government co-dependency and stifling infringements of our God-given liberties.” 
I love the last stanza of our national anthem. But I also know that in order to be free, first you must be brave. Be brave. Sign up today for American CurrentSee and together let's demolish the tired old dogmas, free today's generations from dependency and mediocrity and build a better America.
Your friend,
Dr. Ben Carson

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