Newark watershed trustees to file for bankruptcy in bid to recover allegedly …

NEWARK In one of their first acts as a newly constituted board, the trustees of the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. voted on Monday to file for bankruptcy.

The move is part of the trustees ongoing effort to shut down the entity that once ran the citys water infrastructure and pursue litigation to recover assets allegedly stolen from the agency.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said during Mondays trustees meeting that city officials were excited about creating the opportunity for bankruptcy and moving forward to go after the folks whoabused the trust of Newark residents.

The trustees agreed to file the petition for bankruptcy in their first meeting since being reshaped as part of a legal settlement between the city and the provisional trustees, who were court-appointed last year to oversee the agencys shutdown.

Under the agreement, Baraka joined the board, along with East Ward councilman Augusto Amador and South Ward councilman John Sharpe James.

The Rev. Dr. M. William Howard, Jr. of Bethany Baptist Church in Newark also was appointed to fill the trustee seat previously held by Rutgers University professor and historian Clement A. Price, who died last month following a stroke.

Those four men have joined provisional trustees James A. Zazzali, a former Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court; Dorothea OC. Wefing, a former Appellate Division judge who was temporarily assigned to the state Supreme Court; and Edwin Stier, a former federal and state prosecutor.

The settlement also means the city will pay $225,000 for the costs associated with the dissolution of the corporation. The city also has agreed to pay $112,500 for any expert witness needed in connection with the anticipated litigation.

The agency has about $399,000 in cash on hand and nearly $2.2 million in liabilities, said Eric Kanefsky, the agencys attorney.

With the litigation, the trustees are looking to hold people accountable for allegedly stealing from the agency, but also to recover money to pay its obligations, including the underfunded pensions of former agency employees, according to Stier.

We intendto collect as much as we can from as many sources as we can find to put ourselves in a position where we can pay off our obligations and return the remaining assets to the city, Stier said.

In a statement today, State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) praised the trustees for filing for bankruptcy. Rice and State Sen. Sam Thompson (R-Middlesex) have called for the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation to examine the corporation.

I want to commend the new board for filing bankruptcy charges and working to recoup taxpayer dollars to help those who were harmed during this fiasco, Rice said in the statement. At the end of the day, when funding is lost to this kind of conduct, it comes back on the taxpayers in various ways, including increased property taxes, lost services and layoffs.

The trustees legal efforts come less than a year after a scathing report was issued in February by the New Jersey Comptrollers Office, alleging rampant mismanagement, corruption and abusive spending practices at the watershed agency.


Is the Edgewater Medical Center Redevelopment Finally On?

[The Residences of Edgewater Park proposal from 2013, by OKW Architects]

After filing for bankruptcy in 2001 due to a Medicare scam that led to a cutoff in funds that broke the bank, the medical center has been a vacant Edgewater eyesore. As the 114,300-square-foot lot attracted graffiti tags and trash, debate emerged in the neighborhood between raising and replacing the center with new green space, supported by the Friends of West Edgewater Park, or building over the blight with a mixed-use development. Numerous proposals have been floated, including a park, senior center, the tony
The Residences at Edgewater Park and a massive project by previous owners
http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2011/02/01/waveland-partners-unveils-plans-for-edgewater-medical-center.php>Waveland Partners. The current MCZ/CA development would only impact a portion of the site, but after more than a decade of inactivity, its a big sign of progress.

#183Demolition of Edgewater Medical Center Garage to Begin in Early January [DNAinfo]
#183The saga of Edgewater Medical Center [Gapers Block]
#183Previous Edgewater Medical Center coverage [Curbed Chicago]


APNewsBreak: Deadly oil train blast settlement fund tops $200M ahead of filing …

PORTLAND, Maine A proposed settlement fund for victims of a fiery train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Canada is nearly halfway to a goal of $500 million in funding commitments ahead of its filing next month, the defunct railroads bankruptcy trustee said.

More than a dozen corporations that face potential liability in the Lac Megantic, Quebec, oil train disaster have agreed to pay over $200 million to the fund and that sum could more than double by the time judges in the US and Canada sign off, bankruptcy trustee Robert Keach told The Associated Press.

Keach, the trustee in the Montreal, Maine amp; Atlantic Railways bankruptcy case, is casting a wide net as he seeks to build the fund to compensate victims. The names of contributors and other companies targeted for contributions are confidential, he said.

Were very proud of the fact that weve gotten to $200 million. But we have a larger goal in mind, and were going to continue to work for that, he told the AP.

The proposed settlement will be filed by Jan. 12, a deadline for the bankruptcy proceedings in Canada, Keach said. He said he hopes the full settlement will be approved by late March or April, meaning the first payments could be made by the second anniversary of the disaster.

Much of downtown Lac Megantic was destroyed on July 6, 2013, by a raging fire caused when an unattended train with 72 oil tankers began rolling downhill toward the town of 10,000 people. More than 60 tankers derailed and several exploded. Forty-seven people died, and dozens of buildings were destroyed.

After filing for bankruptcy, Montreal, Maine amp; Atlantic was sold for $15.85 million but virtually all of that money went to repay creditors.

Keach said hes committed to getting as much money as possible for the victims.

Whats possible is a half-a-billion dollar fund. Will we get all the way there? That remains to be seen but thats the goal, he said.

A year ago, Keach sued World Fuel Services Corp., owner of the crude oil, and several other companies, accusing them of downplaying the volatility of the crude from North Dakotas Bakken shale region. Canadas transportation agency said the crude was roughly as flammable as unleaded gasoline.

World Fuel Services is presumed to be among the 20 or so companies targeted to contribute to the settlement. Keach also has asked for discovery documents from oil companies and subsidiaries including ConocoPhillips, Shell Trading US Co., and Marathon Oil Corp.

Companies that choose not to participate in the settlement fund could be sued individually by victims. Wrongful death lawsuits are currently on hold pending the outcome of the settlement proposal.

Even if the settlement is approved, that wouldnt mean the end of the case.

Criminal charges are pending in Canada against three railway employees, including one accused of failing to set enough brakes on the train.

The railroad, meanwhile, is now under new ownership and has undergone upgrades totaling $10 million. The new owner, Central Maine and Quebec Railway, has resumed shipments of goods like propane and chemicals but the company has agreed not ship crude oil through Lac Megantic until 2016, company officials said.

___

Follow David Sharp on Twitter at https://twitter.com/David_Sharp_AP


Boxing Day sales: a guide to your rights

With the sales in full swing even before Santa got his sleigh out of the garage, you may already have bagged a few bargains. But if things go wrong, or if you have yet to hit the shops, it’s useful to know your rights.

If an item is marked as reduced it must have previously been on sale at a higher price. If a retailer is claiming that an item is on sale at less than the usual price it charges it must have been at the higher price for at least 28 consecutive days immediately prior to be reduced. If that isn’t the case, the retailer needs to spell out what the offer is and what prices it is using for comparison. If signs around the shop say “half-price sale” or “up to 50% off” the maximum cut should apply to at least 10% of the items on offer at the start of the sale period.

Sometimes retailers will mark things as a “special purchase” rather than a sale item – these are usually things that have been bought specifically for the sale and do not to have been on offer at the shop previously.

There may not be a refund if you change your mind. Retailers are not obliged to give you a refund or an exchange if you simply decide you don’t want something that you have bought in a store – that includes if it’s an item of clothing that doesn’t fit. Most do as a goodwill gesture, but be aware that sometimes they have a different exchange policy during a sale. Some reduce the period in which you can return an item – the usual 28 days might be cut to 14 or even seven, others say that you can only have an exchange or credit note, or refuse any returns on sale items. Look out for signs near the sale racks, or ask before you pay.

Your usual rights apply if an item is faulty. Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 any item you buy must be of satisfactory quality, match the description given by the trader and be fit for purpose – this applies even if the price has been cut. If you get home and find your bargain doesn’t tick all of these boxes, you should be able to get a repair, a replacement or a refund. The problem needs to be taken up by the retailer in the first six months after you make the purchase – they may try to tell you that you need to contact the manufacturer but this isn’t the case. There is an exception: if an item is in the sale and marked up as having a fault – sometimes you might see clothing that has been reduced because a button is missing or there is a mark on it – you cannot return it and claim a refund for that same problem.

You might not get all of your money back if you return goods bought before the sale. If you take something back during the sale the retailer might only offer to repay the most recent price for it, even if it was bought at full cost. This is less likely if you have a receipt, so if it is an unwanted Christmas present it is worth asking for the proof of purchase before you attempt to exchange an item.

You have extra rights when sales shopping online. While retailers are not obliged to offer refunds if you change your mind about something you buy on the high street, if your sales shopping was done from the comfort of your sofa the situation is different. The Consumer Contracts Regulations, which were introduced in 2014, give you 14 days from receiving your order to tell the retailer that you have changed your mind. You then get 14 days to return the item and the retailer must refund you within 14 days of received it. Some retailers will let you make returns to their stores, but in some cases you will need to arrange to send something back by post, and may have to meet the cost yourself. Retailers should make their returns policies clear on their websites.

If things go wrong with your online shopping and you don’t get your goods within 30 days of ordering you can claim a refund.

There are some items that you can’t return unless they are faulty. Retailers are not obliged to offer refunds on certain items, even if you bought them online. These include personalised and customised items – for example footbal shirts that you’ve had a name put on, or curtains that you’ve had made-to-measure, perishable items like flowers or food, and CDs, DVDs or computer games that have been unwrapped.


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Money-Saving Tips For Styling Your First Apartment

Sure, graduation and your first job are huge steps towards adulthood, but whats the true sign that youve officially made it? When you get the keys to your very own apartment. Moving into your first (or second) place is a big deal, but we all know it can come at a high price. It was a rude awakening the day we realized our Pinterest-fueled dreams didnt exactly fit our budget. But dont give up hope! Having an apartment thats chic and affordable is totally possible. The key is knowing the tricks and hacks that will help you save money without skimping on style. That way, youll save your money for whats really important . . . the housewarming party.

Read the whole story at PopSugar Home


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Balance your books and see your money grow

There are plenty of ways to help you manage your money. A small bank book used to be the common method of writing down your transactions and balancing your checkbook.

Nowadays, you can balance your checkbook and make your money work for you with digital bank books. There is a program that can sync with your app through the cloud to keep your accounts balanced wherever you go.

Next page: Find out how to balance your books and make your money work for you. 


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IT’S YOUR MONEY: Plan early to figure out who pays what for college

Any long-term financial goal deserves thought and planning. If you anticipate your children will continue their education beyond high school, there are many considerations for you and for your kids.


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Scientists dream up a credit card that no one can forge

One downside of bank cards is that, with the right equipment and know-how, theyre pretty easy to clone. Thats not just a problem for the people whose cash gets stolen, but also for the banks that are tasked with preventing fraud. It appears that credit card cloning may become a thing of the past if a theoretical system from the University of Twente becomes a reality. Rather than using numerical codes which, as Target, Sony and others will attest, are only as secure as the box theyre stored in, this new method uses quantum physics.

Put very simply, instead of a magnetic strip, future credit cards would have a band of nanoparticles running down one side. When a bank wanted to assign the card to a person, a laser would fire at it, bouncing light randomly across the strip. The quantum pattern that would be left by the indentations would be sufficiently random that, like a fingerprint, itd be too resource-intensive to replicate, if it was at all possible. Unlike other high-faultin anti-fraud ideas, the team claims that this quantum secure authentication works in the real world and is, apparently, easy to implement with current tech. Now be glad we didnt try to work in any sort of puns about taking solace in quantum physics for the James Bond fans amongst you.


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It’s Your Money: Even small changes in spending can add up

Just go out for dessert.

That was the suggestion that came from one of the Money Coaches, a group of volunteers who work with families and individuals who want ongoing support to stick to their budgets. We were discussing suggestions on how to help people save.

With the holiday season now in full swing, one of the items that tends to creep up in everyone’s spending is going out to eat. People are in town, we want to get together, and often we will go out to a special place to celebrate. But the price tag can be huge. So the idea of eating the main meal at home and then going to a restaurant for a wonderful dessert can be a great way of having the experience at a fraction of the cost.

It strikes me that this suggestion, like many, won’t make a gigantic difference in an overall budget, but a combination of smaller fixes can. Many years ago, my husband Jim, worked in corporate training. One of his favorite classes that he taught was named “Elephants don’t bite.” He would start by asking the class if anyone had been bitten by an ant and everyone responds with a yes. He then would ask about a mosquito and a flea, again with affirmative responses. Then the question of has anyone ever been bitten by an elephant would come with laughing responses of no’s from the room. The point is that no one has died from an elephant bite, but if you were covered with ant bites or mosquito bites, your life would be miserable. There is a similar exercise used in the Stephen Covey training on effective habits where the instructor takes a half full container of sand and then tries to fit a number of big rocks. It can’t be done, but when the big rocks are put in first, the sand fits neatly into the mix.

Almost all of us do a pretty good job of getting the big items in our budget in place. When we buy a home, we do a lot of research on neighborhoods and property values as well as mortgage terms. When we buy a car, we think about mileage and gas prices as well as maintenance costs. But when it comes to the smaller things, we often just run out of energy or time and purchase without thinking.

So that is where the simpler suggestions can help. Every couple of months, we try to take a one-week break from buying dinners at the grocery store and eat from the freezer. We all tend to freeze that extra piece of chicken that we didn’t use thinking that we will use it later, but then we never do. The discipline of forcing ourselves to create multiple dinners without going to the store requires creativity.

With Christmas and the New Year right around the corner, there are lots of celebrations in our future. Make sure you don’t break your budget on the smaller items.

Martha Cox is chief strategy and development officer of Jacksonville’s Family Foundations, and her column runs every other Wednesday in the Times-Union. marthac@familyfoundations.org.


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Theft of handbag and bank cards in Louth

Police in Louth are investigating the theft of a handbag and bank cards.

The victim was shopping at the Co-op store in Newmarket on Friday evening (December 12) when the bag was stolen.

A short while later, at 7.03pm, a person unsuccessfully attempted to use the cash machine outside the Co-op using the stolen bank cards.

CCTV has captured an image of a person that police wish to trace as they may have information to assist the enquiry. The person was wearing a buttoned-up coat with a hood, trainers, and tracksuit bottoms.

Anyone with information should contact PC Dave Bridger at Louth Police Station by dialling 101 and quoting incident number 194 of December 13, or report crimes anonymously by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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