Commission Meeting Highlights 10/24/13

Unless your calendar is congested, you do not even know how busy I am. At any rate, Here I go, the Oct. 24, 2013 commission meeting was opened in form at approximately 4:00 P. M. (EST) with George Mastics at the helm of the meeting. The call to order, roll call, pledge of allegiance, and the approval of the minutes of the last meeting progressed very quickly into the additions, deletions, presentations, and announcements. The key announcement to be made was of the new and improved Port of Palm Beach website located at www.portofpalmbeach.com .

The consent agenda having been approved. The meeting floor was given to the Port’s Executive Director Manuel Almira. He continued to report that the Port was working with Governor Rick Scott, Congress woman Lowis Frankle, and others to acquire grant monies for our Port’s continuing operations in the black. Among these grants sought with the help of the Port’s legal staff, and the Port’s lobbyist, Richard Penske, are a grant for Tropical Shipping in the amount of roughly $250-275K. The Port is being a good neighbor, (paraphrase of Jean Enright) to Tropical as the Port is currently trying to negotiate a new contract with Tropical. Tropical’s current contract for the MOB, is soon to expire, and they have until November 30th to decide whether they are staying or leaving. In the event they decide to leave, they will have until March 31, 2014 to get out. In the mean time the Port is meeting with other entities and discussing potential contracts for the future.

Executive Director Manuel Almira also reported that the TEU’s (Tone Equivalent Units) YTD were again up as they have been for many months now. The passenger count was shortly down; however, this was most probably due to the Bahamas’s Calibration being in dock last month for upgrading and routine maintenance for a short time. Director Almira also informed the Port’s Commission of the new potential trade routes being studied for the future, And about the progress being made at the Panama Canal and the impact that that may have on our shipping. He also reported about the changing economy of the east, and that it appears that the trade shift is toward South Korea and Vietnam. It appears that the economic environment in these countries is now more favorable than the Chinese sustain. (The last statement is my summation.).

There was discussion of channels and turning basin depths, (ACOE) should have a statement by Dec. 17th, 2013. There was also discussion of security fencing, annex property, easements i.e. natural gas, petroleum, chemical, and FP&L

The highlight of Karen Brandon’s report; I hope I spelled that right, was her report of the decision that was made to extend the sugar boom rather than moving the gantry and the rail system. This is a savings to the Port.

Southern National track will continue to do the rail work and repair of our tracks as this was approved by the Commission.

The dilemma of the alleged code enforcement violation on the MaritimeMuseum continues to unravel. Apparently at the code enforcement hearing on Oct 2, 2013, the Port was released as a defendant and the magistrate court found the museum in violation. The MaritimeMuseum has 30 days from that decision to file a pracipe and notice of appeal. Then they would have 30 days to present their argument to the appellate court assuming that the appellate court finds a foundation for their argument. Then there is the issue of who repays the Port for their Attorney costs that have been imposed due to this alleged violation. I am not a lawyer; however, it has been my experience in the U. S. courts of law that business documents are admissible over objection, the 14thammendment of equal protection of the law still exists, and that if the county did not cite themselves for a violation for their outdoor event, they should not cite the museum. In addition the codification of a special event is cloudy in the Palm Beach County Codes. (This is my opinion).

It is also my opinion with my experiences with my Law Enforcement Degree, that if one attempts to acquire damages for expenses, (Attorney fees) one would have to sue both offending parties, in this case the County and the Maritime Museum, if the Museum is found not to have been in violation, to recover the Port and tax payer’s money for this incident.

The Commission approved the purchase of five new security booths for the protection of us the people, and then the meeting moved to the Island Breese.

The Island Breese is the soon to have been regenerated form of the former Black Diamond gaming vessel. This is a major renovation and worthy of praise. I hope to soon take a tour of the soon to be completed vessel as it is scheduled for sailing by December 31st of this year.

There was little to no comments from the public or the board, and the meeting was then adjourned.

Article by George Black Jr. POPBP.

 

 

 

Commission meeting flash:

The Port of Palm Beach just launched it’s new website as of 12:01 EST this morning. This information was acquired at the commission meeting from the words of the Port’s Executive Director Manuel Almira.  From what I have seen it is awesome! Check it out.

George

AP: Press release.

The Big Story

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Wave of attacks kills at least 66 people in Iraq

— Oct. 27, 2013 2:14 PM EDT

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Home » Baghdad » Wave of attacks kills at least 66 people in Iraq

 

BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of attacks including car bombings in Baghdad, an explosion at a market and a suicide assault in a northern city killed at least 66 people Sunday across Iraq, officials said, the latest in a wave of violence washing over the country.

Coordinated bombings hit Iraq multiple times each month, feeding a spike in bloodshed that has killed more than 5,000 people since April. The local branch of al-Qaida often takes responsibility for the assaults, although there was no immediate claim for Sunday’s blasts.

Sunday’s attacks were the deadliest single-day series of assaults since Oct. 5, when 75 people were killed in violence.

Police officers said that the bombs in the capital, placed in parked cars and detonated over a half-hour period, targeted commercial areas and parking lots, killing 42 people.

The deadliest blasts struck in the southeastern Nahrwan district, where two car bombs exploded simultaneously, killing seven and wounding 15, authorities said. Two other explosions hit the northern Shaab and southern Abu Dashir neighborhoods, each killing six people, officials said. Other blasts hit the neighborhoods of Mashtal, Baladiyat and Ur in eastern Baghdad, the southwestern Bayaa district and the northern Sab al-Bor and Hurriyah districts.

Meanwhile, in the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into a group of soldiers as they were sealing off a street leading to a bank where troops were receiving salaries, killing 14, a police officer said. At least 30 people were wounded, the officer said. Also in Mosul, police said gunmen shot dead two off-duty soldiers in a drive-by shooting.

The former insurgent stronghold of Mosul is located about 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

In the afternoon, a bomb blast killed four people and wounded 11 inside an outdoor market in the Sunni town of Tarmiyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad, authorities said.

Sunday night, police said mortar shells landed on homes in a Shiite district of Madain, a town just south of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding nine, officials said.

Such coordinated attacks are a favorite tactic of al-Qaida’s local branch. It frequently targets civilians in markets, cafes and commercial streets in Shiite areas in an attempt to undermine confidence in the government, as well as members of the security forces. All of the car bombings Sunday in Baghdad struck Shiite neighborhoods.

In Mashtal in Baghdad, police and army forces sealed off the scene as ambulances rushed to pick up the wounded. Pools of blood covered the pavement. The force of the explosion damaged number of cars and shops. At one restaurant, the blast overturned wooden benches and left broken eggs scattered on the ground. In Shaab, a crane lifted away at least 12 charred cars as cleaners swept away debris.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures for all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly release the information.

Violence has spiked in Iraq since April, when the pace of killing reached levels unseen since 2008. Today’s attacks bring the death toll across the country this month to 545, according to an Associated Press count.

___

Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

___

Follow Sinan Salaheddin on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sinansm.

 

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AP Sources: 476,000 Obamacare Applications Filed

WASHINGTON October 20, 2013 (AP)
By JULIE PACE AP White House Correspondent

Administration officials say about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges, the most detailed measure yet of the problem-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.

However, the officials continue to refuse to say how many people have actually enrolled in the insurance markets. Without enrollment figures, it’s unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people projecting by the Congressional Budget Office to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.

Obama’s advisers say the president has been frustrated by the flawed rollout. During one of his daily health care briefings last week, he told advisers assembled in the Oval Office that the administration had to own up to the fact that there were no excuses for not having the website ready to operate as promised.

The president is expected to address the problems on Monday during a health care event at the White House. Cabinet members and other top administration officials will also be traveling around the country in the coming weeks to encourage sign-ups in areas with the highest population of uninsured people.

The first three weeks of sign-ups have been marred by a cascade of computer problems, which the administration says it is working around the clock to correct. The rough rollout has been a glaring embarrassment for Obama, who invested significant time and political capital in getting the law passed during his first term.

The officials said technology experts from inside and outside the government are set to work on the glitches, though they did not say how many workers were being added.

Officials did say staffing has been increased at call centers by about 50 percent. As problems persist on the federally run website, the administration is encouraging more people to sign up for insurance over the phone.

The officials did not want to be cited by name and would not discuss the health insurance rollout unless they were granted anonymity.

Despite the widespread problems, the Obama administration has yet to fully explain what went wrong with the online system consumers were supposed to use to sign up for coverage.

Initially, administration officials blamed a high volume of interest for the frozen screens that many people encountered. Since then, the administration has also acknowledged unspecified problems with software and some elements of the system’s design.

Interest in the insurance markets appears to continue to be high. Officials said about 19 million people had visited HealthCare.gov as of Friday night.

People seeking insurance must fill out applications before selecting specific plans. The applications include personal information, including income figures that are used to calculate any subsidies the applicant may qualify for.

More than one person can be included on an application.

Of the 476,000 applications that have been started, just over half have been from the 36 states where the federal government is taking the lead in running the markets. The rest of the applications have come from the 14 states running their own markets, along with Washington, D.C.

The White House says it plans to release the first enrollment totals from both the federal and state-run markets in mid-November.

An internal memo obtained by The Associated Press showed that the administration projected nearly a half-million people would enroll for the insurance markets during the first month.

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Press release: Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County

 

Hi, just a reminder that you’re receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County. Don’t forget to add mia@marinepbc.org to your address book so we’ll be sure to land in your inbox!

You may unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive our emails.

Boat Parade Logo
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 

19th Annual Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade and 14th Annual Toys for Tots Drive

Deadline for boat entries is Monday, December 2

Free boat entry and $10,000 in cash and prizes

First Annual Boat Parade After-Party at Square Grouper Tiki Bar

 

(NORTHERN PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL)–A premier event of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County (MIAPBC), the 2013 Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade and “On the Water” Toys for Tots Drive kicks off this year’s holiday season on Saturday, December 7 at 6:00 p.m.

 

The parade will start at the north end of the Lake Worth Lagoon, south of Old Port Cove Marina, and proceed north to the Jupiter Lighthouse. Tens of thousands of spectators will come out to enjoy the procession of decorated vessels sparkling on the Intracoastal Waterway beneath a backdrop of traveling Zambelli Fireworks. We welcome back Grand Marshal’s Mo and Sally from KOOL 105.5 on the Loggerhead Marina Grand Marshal Boat. Popular viewing locations include: Juno Park, Riverwalk, Sawfish Bay Park, and Jetty’s. The public is also invited to the First Annual Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade After-Party at Square Grouper Tiki Bar in Jupiter.

 

The Palm Beach Holiday Boat Paradebenefits the U.S. Marine Reserves Toys for Tots Program. Last year, the MIAPBC collected 18,000 toys for needy children in Palm Beach County. This event collects more toys for Toys for Tots than any other single eventin Palm Beach County, and is a top collector in the nation. Toy donations can be dropped off at dozens of local businesses (listed at palmbeachboatparade.org), or picked up dockside during the parade by a fleet of toy boat volunteers from TowBoatU.S., Sea Tow Palm Beach, Boat Yard Services, Bobby Soles Propeller Service, Bluewater Boat Rentals, and Ocean Breeze.

Boat entry is free and the application can be found on the parade website. A captain’s meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 3 aboard the Majestic Princess. Entries received by December 2 will be entered into a raffle and be eligible to win one of several fuel cards from Lake Park Harbor Marina, New Port Cove Marina, and Loggerhead Marina ranging in value from $100 to $500. Boats will be judged by local elected officials and community leaders at the North Palm Beach Marina. Judging is based on three factors: lights, enthusiasm and overall effect -the top three boats in each size category win a total of $10,000 in cash and prizes. The ‘Best of Parade’ boat receives $500 cash prize and more. An awards ceremony will take place at the Hilton Singer Island.

 

The Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade is produced and sponsored by the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Inc. along with these other top sponsors not mentioned above: Town of Jupiter, Village of North Palm Beach, WPBF Channel 25, Clear Channel Radio/KOOL 105.5, Florida Weekly, Jetty’s, Viking, ANDE Monofilament, BoatingSouthFlorida.com and more! For more information visit palmbeachboatparade.org, email alyssa@marinepbc.org, or call (561) 863-0012.

 

Media Contact: Alyssa Freeman, (561) 863-0012 or alyssa@marinepbc.org

 

# # #

Toys for Tots Logo

 

 

Click here for the sponsor brochure

 

Click here for the donation form

Click here for a boat entry application

 

More information available at www.palmbeachboatparade.org

 

Town of Jupiter Square Grouper North Palm Beach Marina KOOL 105.5 Tow BoatUS Palm Beach Sea Tow Hilton Majestic Princess BOLA
      Ande Village of North Palm Beach  
 
 
Florida Weekly
Jetty’s  
Harbor of Hope
Lake Park Harbor Marina
New Port Cove Marine Center
West Palm Beach Fishing Club
Marine Electronic Solutions
Rocco’s Tacos
Noel’s Distributing
Best Western Palm Beach Lakes
Sea Mist III
PGA National Resort & Spa
Ground Swell Surf Shop
Dockside Marine Tech
Ocean Breeze, Inc.
Castaways Sailing, Inc.
Whiticar Boat Works
Venue Marketing Group

AP: Release

  1. Congress votes to end shutdown, avoid US default

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio stops to talk to a group of students as he walks back into his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013.

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio stops to talk to a group of students as he walks back into his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. Photo by The Associated Press.

     

    By The Associated Press

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Up against a deadline, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation late Wednesday night to avoid a threatened national default and end the 16-day partial government shutdown, the culmination of an epic political drama that placed the U.S. economy at risk.

    The Senate voted first, a bipartisan 81-18 at midevening. That cleared the way for a final 285-144 vote in the Republican-controlled House about two hours later on the legislation, which hewed strictly to the terms Obama laid down when the twin crises erupted more than three weeks ago.

    The legislation would permit the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer, and fund the government through Jan. 15. More than 2 million federal workers would be paid — those who had remained on the job and those who had been furloughed.

    After the Senate approved the measure, Obama hailed the vote and said he would sign it immediately after it reached his desk. “We’ll begin reopening our government immediately and we can begin to lift this cloud of uncertainty from our businesses and the American people.”

    Later, in the House, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said, “After two long weeks, it is time to end this government shutdown. It’s time to take the threat of default off the table. It’s time to restore some sanity to this place.”

    The stock market surged higher at the prospect of an end to the crisis that also had threatened to shake confidence in the U.S. economy overseas.

    Republicans conceded defeat after a long struggle. “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” conceded House Speaker John Boehner as lawmakers lined up to vote on a bill that includes nothing for GOP lawmakers who had demand to eradicate or scale back Obama’s signature health care overhaul.

    “The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, declaring that the nation “came to the brink of disaster” before sealing an agreement.

    Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who negotiated the deal with Reid, emphasized that it preserved a round of spending cuts negotiated two years ago with Obama and Democrats. As a result, he said, “government spending has declined for two years in a row” for the first time since the Korean War. “And we’re not going back on this agreement,” he added.

    Only a temporary truce, the measure set a time frame of early next winter for the next likely clash between Obama and the Republicans over spending and borrowing.

    But for now, government was lurching back to life. In one example, officials met to discuss plans for gearing back up at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where 307 employees remained at work during the partial shutdown and more than 8,000 were furloughed.

    After weeks of gridlock, the measure had support from the White House, most if not all Democrats in Congress and many Republicans fearful of the economic impact of a default.

    Boehner and the rest of the top GOP leadership told their rank and file they would vote for the measure, and there was little or no doubt it would pass both houses and reach the White House in time for Obama’s signature before the administration’s 11:59 p.m. Oct. 17 deadline.

    That was when Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the government would reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and could no longer borrow to meet its obligations.

    Tea party-aligned lawmakers who triggered the shutdown that began on Oct. 1 said they would vote against the legislation. Significantly, though, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others agreed not to use the Senate’s cumbersome 18th-century rules to slow the bill’s progress.

    In remarks on the Senate floor, Cruz said the measure was “a terrible deal” and criticized fellow Republicans for lining up behind it.

    McConnell made no mention of the polls showing that the shutdown and flirtation with default have sent Republicans’ public approval plummeting and have left the party badly split nationally as well as in his home state of Kentucky. He received a prompt reminder, though.

    “When the stakes are highest Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out conservatives,” said Matt Bevin, who is challenging the party leader from the right in a 2014 election primary.

    More broadly, national tea party groups and their allies underscored the internal divide. The Club for Growth urged lawmakers to vote against the congressional measure, and said it would factor in the organization’s decision when it decides which candidates to support in midterm elections next year.

    “There are no significant changes to Obamacare, nothing on the other major entitlements that are racked with trillions in unfunded liabilities, and no meaningful spending cuts either. If this bill passes, Congress will kick the can down the road, yet again,” the group said.

    Even so, support for Boehner appeared solid inside his fractious rank and file. “There are no plots, plans or rumblings that I know of. And I was part of one in January, so I’d probably be on the whip list for that,” said Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of the bill.

    Simplicity at the end, there was next to nothing in the agreement beyond authorization for the Treasury to resume borrowing and funding for the government to reopen.

    House and Senate negotiators are to meet this fall to see if progress is possible on a broad deficit-reduction compromise of the type that has proved elusive in the current era of divided government.

    Additionally, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is to be required to produce a report stating that her agency is capable of verifying the incomes of individuals who apply for federal subsidies under the health care law known as Obamacare.

    Obama had insisted repeatedly he would not pay “ransom” by yielding to Republican demands for significant changes to the health care overhaul in exchange for funding the government and permitting Treasury the borrowing latitude to pay the nation’s bills.

    Other issues fell by the wayside in a final deal, including a Republican proposal for the suspension of a medical device tax in Obamacare and a Democratic call to delay a fee on companies for everyone who receives health coverage under an employer-sponsored plan.

    The gradual withering of Republicans’ Obamacare-related demands defined the arc of the struggle that has occupied virtually all of Congress’ time for the past three weeks.

    The shutdown began on Oct. 1 after Cruz and his tea party allies in the House demanded the defunding of the health care law as a trade for providing essential government funding.

    Obama and Reid refused, then refused again and again as Boehner gradually scaled back Republican demands.

    The shutdown initially idled about 800,000 workers, but that soon fell to about 350,000 after Congress agreed to let furloughed Pentagon employees return to work. While there was widespread inconvenience, the mail was delivered, Medicare continued to pay doctors who treated seniors and there was no interruption in Social Security benefits.

    Still, national parks were closed to the detriment of tourists and local businesses, government research scientists were sent home and Food and Drug Administration inspectors worked only sporadically.

    Obama and Boehner both came to the same conclusion — that they would allow the shutdown to persist for two weeks, until it became politically possible to reopen government and address the threat of default at the same time.

    As Republican polls sank, Boehner refused to let the House vote on legislation to reopen the entire government, insisting on a piecemeal approach that the White House and Reid rejected as insufficient.

    As the Oct. 17 debt-limit deadline approached, there were warnings from European officials as well as Cabinet members and bankers in this country that failure to raise the debt limit invited an economic disaster far worse than the near-meltdown of 2008.

    On Tuesday, the Fitch credit rating agency said it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade.

    By then, the endgame was underway.

    Late last week, Obama met with Boehner and House Republicans at the White House. The session resulted in brief follow-up talks in which GOP aides suggested easing the across-the-board spending cuts in exchange for changes in benefit programs such as making Medicare more expensive for better-off beneficiaries.

    After that faltered, Reid and McConnell announced over the weekend they were seeking a deal to solve the crises, and expressed hope they could quickly come to an agreement.

    That effort was suspended on Tuesday, a day of suspense in which Boehner made one last stab at a conservatives’ solution. When his rank and file refused to coalesce around any proposal, he gave up and McConnell and Reid returned to their labors.

    House Roll Call: How your rep voted on ending the shutdown

    Earlier coverage, posted at 6:19 p.m.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Up against one last deadline, Congress raced to pass legislation Wednesday avoiding a threatened national default and ending a 16-day partial government shutdown along the strict terms set by President Barack Obama when the twin crises began.

    “We fought the good fight. We just didn’t win,” conceded House Speaker John Boehner as lawmakers lined up to vote on a bill that includes nothing for Republicans demanding to eradicate or scale back Obama’s signature health care overhaul.

    The stock market surged higher at the prospect of an end to the crisis that also had threatened to shake confidence in the U.S. economy overseas.

    A Senate vote was set first on the legislation, which would permit the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 or perhaps a month longer, and fund the government through Jan. 15. More than two million federal workers — those who had remained on the job and those who had been furloughed — would be paid under the agreement.

    Across the Capitol, members of the House marked time until their turn came to vote.

    Only a temporary truce, the measure set a timeframe of early next winter for the next likely clash between Obama and the Republicans over spending and borrowing.

    But for now, government was lurching back to life. In one example, officials met to discuss plans for gearing back up at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where 307 employees remained at work during the partial shutdown and more than 8,000 were furloughed.

    After weeks of gridlock, the measure had support from the White House, most if not all Democrats in Congress and many Republicans fearful of the economic impact of a default.

    Boehner and the rest of the top GOP leadership told their rank and file they would vote for the measure, and there was little or no doubt it would pass both houses and reach the White House in time for Obama’s signature before the administration’s 11:59 p.m. Oct. 17 deadline.

    That was when Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the government would reach the current $16.7 trillion debt limit and could no longer borrow to meet its obligations.

    Tea party-aligned lawmakers who triggered the shutdown that began on Oct. 1 said they would vote against the legislation. Significantly, though, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others agreed not to use the Senate’s cumbersome 18th century rules to slow the bill’s progress.

    “The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, declaring that the nation “came to the brink of disaster” before sealing an agreement.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who negotiated the deal with Reid, emphasized that it preserved a round of spending cuts negotiated two years ago with Obama and Democrats. As a result, he said, “government spending has declined for two years in a row” for the first time since the Korean War. “And we’re not going back on this agreement,” he added.

    McConnell made no mention of the polls showing that the shutdown and flirtation with default have sent Republicans’ public approval plummeting and have left the party badly split nationally as well as in his home state of Kentucky. He received a prompt reminder, though.

    “When the stakes are highest Mitch McConnell can always be counted on to sell out conservatives,” said Matt Bevin, who is challenging the party leader from the right in a 2014 election primary.

    More broadly, national tea party groups and their allies underscored the internal divide. The Club for Growth urged lawmakers to vote against the congressional measure, and said it would factor in the organization’s decision when it decides which candidates to support in midterm elections next year.

    “There are no significant changes to Obamacare, nothing on the other major entitlements that are racked with trillions in unfunded liabilities, and no meaningful spending cuts either. If this bill passes, Congress will kick the can down the road, yet again,” the group said.

    Even so, support for Boehner appeared solid inside his fractious rank and file. “There are no plots, plans or rumblings that I know of. And I was part of one in January, so I’d probably be on the whip list for that,” said Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of the bill.

    Simplicity at the end, there was next to nothing in the agreement beyond authorization for the Treasury to resume borrowing and funding for the government to reopen.

    House and Senate negotiators are to meet this fall to see if progress is possible on a broad deficit-reduction compromise of the type that has proved elusive in the current era of divided government.

    Additionally, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is to be required to produce a report stating that her agency is capable of verifying the incomes of individuals who apply for federal subsidies under the health care law known as Obamacare.

    Obama had insisted repeatedly he would not pay “ransom” by yielding to Republican demands for significant changes to the health care overhaul in exchange for funding the government and permitting Treasury the borrowing latitude to pay the nation’s bills.

    Other issues fell by the wayside in a final deal, including a Republican proposal for the suspension of a medical device tax in Obamacare and a Democratic call to delay a fee on companies for everyone who receives health coverage under an employer-sponsored plan.

    The gradual withering of Republicans’ Obamacare-related demands defined the arc of the struggle that has occupied virtually all of Congress’ time for the past three weeks.

    The shutdown began on Oct. 1 after Cruz and his tea party allies in the House demanded the defunding of the health care law as a trade for providing essential government funding.

    Obama and Reid refused, then refused again and again as Boehner gradually scaled back Republican demands.

    The shutdown initially idled about 800,000 workers, but that soon fell to about 350,000 after Congress agreed to let furloughed Pentagon employees return to work. While there was widespread inconvenience, the mail was delivered, Medicare continued to pay doctors who treated seniors and there was no interruption in Social Security benefits.

    Still, national parks were closed to the detriment of tourists and local businesses, government research scientists were sent home and Food and Drug Administration inspectors worked only sporadically.

    Obama and Boehner both came to the same conclusion — that they would allow the shutdown to persist for two weeks, until it became politically possible to reopen government and address the threat of default at the same time.

    As Republican polls sank, Boehner refused to let the House vote on legislation to reopen the entire government, insisting on a piecemeal approach that the White House and Reid rejected as insufficient.

    As the Oct. 17 debt-limit deadline approached, there were warnings from European officials as well as Cabinet members and bankers in this country that failure to raise the debt limit invited an economic disaster far worse than the near-meltdown of 2008.

    On Tuesday, the Fitch credit rating agency said it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade.

    By then, the endgame was underway.

    Late last week, Obama met with Boehner and House Republicans at the White House. The session resulted in brief follow-up talks in which GOP aides suggested easing the across-the-board spending cuts in exchange for changes in benefit programs such as making Medicare more expensive for better-off beneficiaries.

    After that faltered, Reid and McConnell announced over the weekend they were seeking a deal to solve the crises, and expressed hope they could quickly come to an agreement.

    That effort was suspended on Tuesday, a day of suspense in which Boehner made one last stab at a conservatives’ solution. When his rank and file refused to coalesce around any proposal, he gave up and McConnell and Reid returned to their labors.

    Earlier coverage, posted at 12:34 p.m.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders announced last-minute agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after a partial, 16-day shutdown. Congress raced to pass the measure by day’s end.

    The Dow Jones industrial average soared on the news that the threat of default was fading, flirting with a 200-point gain in morning trading.

    “This is a time for reconciliation,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the agreement he had forged with the GOP leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

    McConnell said that with the accord, Republicans had sealed a deal to have spending in one area of the budget decline for two years in a row, adding, “we’re not going back.”

    One prominent tea party lawmaker, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said he would oppose the plan, but not seek to delay its passage.

    That was a key concession that signaled a strong possibility that both houses could act by day’s end. That, in turn, would allow President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law ahead of the Thursday deadline that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had set for action to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

    Officials said the proposal called for the Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would reopen through Jan. 15.

    There was no official comment from the White House, although congressional officials said administration aides had been kept fully informed of the negotiations.

    In political terms, the final agreement was almost entirely along lines Obama had set when the impasse began last month. Tea party conservatives had initially demanded the defunding of the health care law as the price for providing essential federal funding.

    Under a strategy set by Obama and Reid, Democrats said they would not negotiate with Republicans in exchange for performing what the White House called basic functions of keeping the government in operation and preventing Treasury from defaulting on its obligations.

    A long line of polls charted a steep decline in public approval for Republicans in the course of what Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pronounced a “shameful episode” in the nation’s history.

    While the emerging deal could well meet resistance from conservatives in the Republican-controlled House, the Democratic Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, has signaled she will support the plan and her rank and file is expected to vote for it in overwhelming numbers.

    That raised the possibility that more Democrats than Republicans would back it, potentially causing additional problems for House Speaker John Boehner as he struggles to manage his tea party-heavy majority.

    Boehner and the House Republican leadership met in a different part of the Capitol to plan their next move. A spokesman, Michael Steel, said afterward that no decision had been made “about how or when a potential Senate agreement could be voted on in the House.”

    The developments came one day before the deadline Lew had set for Congress to raise the current $16.7 trillion debt limit. Without action by lawmakers, he said, Treasury could not be certain it had the ability to pay bills as they come due.

    In addition to raising the debt limit, the proposal would give lawmakers a vote to disapprove the increase. Obama would have the right to veto their opposition, ensuring he would prevail.

    House and Senate negotiators would be appointed to seek a deficit-reduction deal. At the last minute, Reid and McConnell jettisoned a plan to give federal agencies increased flexibility in coping with the effects of across-the-board cuts. Officials said that would be a topic for the negotiations expected to begin shortly.

    Despite initial Republican demands for the defunding of the health care law often derided as “Obamacare,” the pending agreement makes only one modest change in the program. It requires individuals and families seeking subsidies to purchase coverage to verify their incomes before qualifying.

    There were some dire warnings from the financial world a day after the Fitch credit rating agency said Tuesday it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade.

    John Chambers, chairman of Standard & Poor’s Sovereign Debt Committee, told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday that a U.S. government default on its debts would be “much worse than Lehman Brothers,” the investment firm whose 2008 collapse led to the global financial crisis.

    Aides to Reid and McConnell said the two men had resumed talks, including a Tuesday night conversation, and were hopeful about striking an agreement that could pass both houses.

    It was expected to mirror a deal the leaders had neared Monday. That agreement was described as extending the debt limit through Feb. 7, immediately reopening the government fully and keeping agencies running until Jan. 15 — leaving lawmakers clashing over the same disputes in the near future.

    It also set a mid-December deadline for bipartisan budget negotiators to report on efforts to reach compromise on longer-term issues like spending cuts. And it likely would require the Obama administration to certify that it can verify the income of people who qualify for federal subsidies for medical insurance under the 2010 health care law.

    But that emerging Senate pact was put on hold Tuesday, an extraordinary day that highlighted how unruly rank-and-file House Republicans can be, even when the stakes are high. Facing solid Democratic opposition, Boehner tried in vain to write legislation that would satisfy GOP lawmakers, especially conservatives.

    Boehner crafted two versions of the bill, but neither made it to a House vote because both faced certain defeat. Working against him was word during the day from the influential group Heritage Action for America that his legislation was not conservative enough — a worrisome threat for many GOP lawmakers whose biggest electoral fears are of primary challenges from the right.

    The last of Boehner’s two bills had the same dates as the emerging Senate plan on the debt limit and shutdown.

    But it also blocked federal payments for the president, members of Congress and other officials to help pay for their health care coverage. And it prevented the Obama administration from shifting funds among different accounts — as past Treasury secretaries have done — to let the government keep paying bills briefly after the federal debt limit has been reached.

    Boehner’s inability to produce a bill that could pass his own chamber likely means he will have to let the House vote on a Senate compromise, even if that means it would pass with strong Democratic and weak GOP support. House Republican leaders have tried to avoid that scenario for fear that it would threaten their leadership, and some Republicans worried openly about that.

    Earlier coverage, posted at 10:20 a.m.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders reached agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after a partial, 16-day shutdown, according to a Republican senator who also said the House might vote first on the plan to speed its approval.

    The New York Stock Exchange soared on the news that the threat of default was easing in, rising nearly 200 points by late morning.

    “I understand they’ve come to an agreement but I’m going to let the leader announce that,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said as she walked into a meeting of Senate Republicans called to review details of the emerging deal struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.

    Officials said the proposal called for the Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would reopen through Jan. 15.

    Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican leadership met in a different part of the Capitol to plan their next move.

    The developments came one day before the deadline Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had set for Congress to raise the current $16.7 trillion debt limit. Without action by lawmakers, he said, Treasury could not be certain it had the ability to pay bills as they come due.

    In addition to raising the debt limit, the proposal would give lawmakers a vote to disapprove the increase. President Barack Obama would have the right to veto their opposition, ensuring he would prevail.

    House and Senate negotiators would be appointed to seek a deficit-reduction deal, but there is no provision for federal agencies to have increased flexibility in coping with the effects of across-the-board cuts.

    Despite initial Republican demands for the defunding of the health care law known as Obamacare, the pending agreement makes only one modest change in the program. It requires individuals and families seeking subsidies to purchase coverage to verify their incomes before qualifying.

    There were some dire warnings from the financial world a day after the Fitch credit rating agency said it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade.

    John Chambers, chairman of Standard & Poor’s Sovereign Debt Committee, told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday that a U.S. government default on its debts would be “much worse than Lehman Brothers,” the investment firm whose 2008 collapse led to the global financial crisis.

    Billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC he doesn’t think the federal government will fail to pay its bills, but “if it does happen, it’s a pure act of idiocy.”

    Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a tea party favorite, said he was not worried about the prospect of a U.S. default.

    “We are going to service our debt,” he told CNN. “But I am concerned about all the rhetoric around this ….I’m concerned that it will scare the markets.”

    Aides to Reid and McConnell said the two men had resumed talks, including a Tuesday night conversation, and were hopeful about striking an agreement that could pass both houses.

    It was expected to mirror a deal the leaders had neared Monday. That agreement was described as extending the debt limit through Feb. 7, immediately reopening the government fully and keeping agencies running until Jan. 15 — leaving lawmakers clashing over the same disputes in the near future.

    It also set a mid-December deadline for bipartisan budget negotiators to report on efforts to reach compromise on longer-term issues like spending cuts. And it likely would require the Obama administration to certify that it can verify the income of people who qualify for federal subsidies for medical insurance under the 2010 health care law.

    But that emerging Senate pact was put on hold Tuesday, an extraordinary day that highlighted how unruly rank-and-file House Republicans can be, even when the stakes are high. Facing solid Democratic opposition, Boehner tried in vain to write legislation that would satisfy GOP lawmakers, especially conservatives.

    Boehner crafted two versions of the bill, but neither made it to a House vote because both faced certain defeat. Working against him was word during the day from the influential group Heritage Action for America that his legislation was not conservative enough — a worrisome threat for many GOP lawmakers whose biggest electoral fears are of primary challenges from the right.

    The last of Boehner’s two bills had the same dates as the emerging Senate plan on the debt limit and shutdown.

    But it also blocked federal payments for the president, members of Congress and other officials to help pay for their health care coverage. And it prevented the Obama administration from shifting funds among different accounts — as past Treasury secretaries have done — to let the government keep paying bills briefly after the federal debt limit has been reached.

    Boehner’s inability to produce a bill that could pass his own chamber likely means he will have to let the House vote on a Senate compromise, even if that means it would pass with strong Democratic and weak GOP support. House Republican leaders have tried to avoid that scenario for fear that it would threaten their leadership, and some Republicans worried openly about that.

    “Of all the damage to be done politically here, one of the greatest concerns I have is that somehow John Boehner gets compromised,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a former House member and a Boehner supporter.

    With the default clock ticking ever louder, it was possible the House might vote first on a plan produced by Senate leaders. For procedural reasons, that could speed the measure’s trip through Congress by removing some parliamentary barriers Senate opponents might erect.

    The strains of the confrontation were showing among GOP lawmakers.

    “It’s time to reopen the government and ensure we don’t default on our debt,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., said in a written statement. “I will not vote for poison pills that have no chance of passing the Senate or being signed into law.”

Released: Associated Press:

Social Security Increases Are Historically Small This Year

AP  |  Posted: 10/13/2013 10:57 am EDT  |  Updated: 10/14/2013 6:30 pm EDT

social security increases

FILE – In this Feb. 11, 2005 file photo, trays of printed social security checks wait to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Management services facility in Philadelphia. For the second straight year, millions of Social Security recipients can expect an historically small increase in benefits come January 2014. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower, File) | AP

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WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second straight year, millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees can expect historically small increases in their benefits come January.

Preliminary figures suggest a benefit increase of roughly 1.5 percent, which would be among the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in 1975, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Next year’s raise will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven’t gone up much in the past year.

The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won’t be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen Wednesday, but the report was delayed indefinitely because of the partial government shutdown.

The COLA is usually announced in October to give Social Security and other benefit programs time to adjust January payments. The Social Security Administration has given no indication that raises would be delayed because of the shutdown, but advocates for seniors said the uncertainty was unwelcome.

Social Security benefits have continued during the shutdown.

More than one-fifth of the country is waiting for the news.

Nearly 58 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,162. A 1.5 percent raise would increase the typical monthly payment by about $17.

The COLA also affects benefits for more than 3 million disabled veterans, about 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors, and more than 8 million people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.

Automatic COLAs were adopted so that benefits for people on fixed incomes would keep up with rising prices. Many seniors, however, complain that the COLA sometimes falls short, leaving them little wiggle room.

David Waugh of Bethesda, Md., said he can handle one small COLA but several in a row make it hard to plan for unexpected expenses.

“I’m not one of those folks that’s going to fall into poverty, but it is going to make a difference in my standard of living as time goes by,” said Waugh, 83, who retired from the United Nations. “I live in a small apartment and I have an old car, and it’s going to break down. And no doubt when it does, I’ll have to fix it or get a new one.”

Since 1975, annual Social Security raises have averaged 4.1 percent. Only six times have they been less than 2 percent, including this year, when the increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.

By law, the cost-of-living adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.

The COLA is calculated by comparing consumer prices in July, August and September each year to prices in the same three months from the previous year. If prices go up over the course of the year, benefits go up, starting with payments delivered in January.

This year, average prices for July and August were 1.4 percent higher than they were a year ago, according to the CPI-W.

Once the September report, the final piece of the puzzle, is released, the COLA can be announced officially. If prices continued to slowly inch up in September, that would put the COLA at roughly 1.5 percent.

Several economists said there were no dramatic price swings in September to significantly increase or decrease the projected COLA. That means the projection shouldn’t change by more than a few tenths of a percentage point, if at all.

Polina Vlasenko, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, projects the COLA will be between 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent.

Her projection is similar to those done by others, including AARP, which estimates the COLA will be between 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent. The Senior Citizens League estimates it will be about 1.5 percent.

Lower prices for gasoline are helping to fuel low inflation, Vlasenko said.

“In years with high COLA’s, a lot of that had to do with fuel prices and in some cases food prices. Neither of those increased much this year,” Vlasenko said. “So that kept the lid on the overall increase in prices.”

Gasoline prices are down 2.4 percent from a year ago while food prices are up slightly, according to the August inflation report. Housing costs went up 2.3 percent and utilities increased by 3.2 percent.

Advocates for seniors say the government’s measure of inflation doesn’t accurately reflect price increases older Americans face because they tend to spend more of their income on health care. Medical costs went up less than in previous years but still outpaced other consumer prices, rising 2.5 percent.

“This (COLA) is not enough to keep up with inflation, as it affects seniors,” said Max Richtman, who heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “There are some things that become cheaper but they are not things that seniors buy. Laptop computers have gone down dramatically but how many people at 70 are buying laptop computers?”

The cost of personal computers dropped by 10.6 percent over the past year, according the CPI-W.

That’s a small consolation to Alberta Gaskins of the District of Columbia, who said she is concerned about keeping up with her household bills.

“It is very important to get the COLA because everything else you have in your life is on an upward swing, and if you’re on a downward swing, that means your quality of life is going down,” said Gaskins, who retired from the Postal Service in 1989.

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Maritime Museum Code Violat

The Maritime Museum code violation hearing was held OCT 2, 2013 at the Code Enforcement Bldg., at Jog Rd. about a mile north of Okeechobee Blvd. I was in attendance until 3PM eastern. Although I did not here the outcome, I believe I saw at least two appealable issues in the hearing that I attended. One being as I understand it, general knowledge and business documents are allowed in evidence. I am not a lawyer, but if they are admissible, grandfather laws, and 14th amendment conditions of equal protection of the law should come into play. Just an observance of the author George Black Jr. Port of Palm Beach Post for those that got it wrong in Facebook.