February 20, 2013

City of Yelm in spotlight from WA. State Audtior’s Report


Washington State Auditor’s Office

The Washington State Auditors Office issued the Accountability Audit Report for the City of Yelm on February 19, 2013.

RESULTS
“In most areas, the City complied with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures.

However, we noted certain matters that we communicated to city management. We appreciated the City’s commitment to resolving those matters.”
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Additionally,
The Washington State Auditors Office issued the Financial Statements Audit Report for the City of Yelm on February 19, 2013.

INTERNAL CONTROL OVER FINANCIAL REPORTING
“In planning and performing our audit, we considered the Citys internal control over financial reporting as a basis for designing our auditing procedures for the purpose of expressing our opinion on the financial statements, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Citys internal control over financial reporting. Accordingly, we do not express an opinion on the effectiveness of the Citys internal control over financial reporting.

However, we noted certain matters that we have reported to the management of the City in a separate letter dated January 22, 2013.”
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Ed. Note:
While the City of Yelm complied in MOST AREAS, they did not comply IN ALL AREAS, which was previous covered here. A city wants to be shown in-compliance in ALL AREAS, for to not get that assessment is an embarrassment, especially for the mayor, who was in the running for County Auditor. The City of Yelm had certain matters identified to them in their internal financial reporting requiring their attention to detail, as well.

The Assistant State Auditor responded to a “hotline referral” from this writer about an appearance of a conflict of interest on Mayor Harding’s part in May, 2010.

Harding was the then-Treasurer & President-elect of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and Mayor of Yelm and “brought a proposal to the chamber board to purchase an electronic sign” to rent to advertisers and be placed on a city-owned easement at the corner of Killion Rd. & Yelm Ave.

As then-Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves said in his May 21, 2010 Op-Ed:
“As mayor, Harding has the potential to knowingly or unknowingly ‘grease the skids’ for the chamber in this process.”

“I believe the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest.”

The State Auditor’s results of the City of Yelm audit were outlined to this writer as follows:
A. Mayor Harding should have –
– identified publicly and to the council he was on the Yelm Chamber Board of Directors when the Chamber’s sign discussion(s) occurred.
– recused himself of any and all Chamber sign discussion(s), allowing Mayor Pro-tem Isom to conduct this discussion, as council member McGowan does by example on all library issues, as he is a TRL employee.
3. “bent over backwards” to prevent any and all appearances of a conflict of interest.
This has been communicated verbally with the city by the Auditor’s office.

B. The City of Yelm did not properly follow procedures requiring a city of Yelm’s size to publicly post any contract details the city proposes over $10,000.

The State Auditor therefore sent a letter to the City of Yelm to remedy these issues in the future, which is now posted on the State Auditor’s website for the public’s information.


February 20, 2013

Rep. Heck:
“cuts…could tip South Puget Sound into a recession


Rep. Denny Heck

“Federal spending cuts [$85 billion in cuts] planned for March 1 could hit Washington state hard, costing 41,700 jobs and removing $3.4 billion from its economy, according to state estimates.”

Unless Congress reverses them, big cuts are in store for the military, schools, law enforcement, health care, food and workplace safety programs, nutritional assistance for the elderly, programs that help the homeless and small businesses and Indian tribes, and many more.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Denny Heck of Olympia said that up to 10,000 civilian employees at Joint Base Lewis-McChord could be forced to take 22 furlough days before Oct. 1.

And with his district heavily dependent on federal money, he fears the unemployment rate could rise by 1 to 2 percentage points.

‘This is real this could tip South Puget Sound into a recession,’ Heck said in an interview, adding that Congress ‘self-imposed problems are about to hit us like a ton of bricks,’ quoting Rob Hotakainen in The Olympian.
Read more


February 19, 2013

TWO FOOD-RELATED STORIES IN THE HEADLINES

“Farmers Supreme Court Challenge Puts Monsanto Patents at Risk”

“With his mere 300 acres of soybeans, corn and wheat, Vernon Hugh Bowman said, ‘Im not even big enough to be called a farmer.’

Yet the 75-year-old farmer from southwestern Indiana will face off Tuesday [Feb. 19] against the worlds largest seed company, Monsanto, in a Supreme Court case that could have a huge impact on the future of genetically modified crops, and also affect other fields from medical research to software.

At stake in Mr. Bowmans case is whether patents on seeds or other things that can self-replicate extend beyond the first generation of the products.

It is one of two cases before the Supreme Court related to the patenting of living organisms, a practice that has helped give rise to the biotechnology industry but which critics have long considered immoral,” quoting Andrew Pollack in The New York Times.
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February 19, 2013

“Why our food is making us fat”

“We are, on average, 3st heavier than we were in the 60s. And not because we’re eating more or exercising less we just unwittingly became sugar addicts.”

“Why are we so fat? We have not become greedier as a race. We are not, contrary to popular wisdom, less active a 12-year study, which began in 2000 at Plymouth hospital, measured children’s physical activity and found it the same as 50 years ago. But something has changed: and that something is very simple. It’s the food we eat. More specifically, the sheer amount of sugar in that food, sugar we’re often unaware of.”

The story begins in 1971. Richard Nixon was facing re-election. The Vietnam war was threatening his popularity at home, but just as big an issue with voters was the soaring cost of food. If Nixon was to survive, he needed food prices to go down, and that required getting a very powerful lobby on board the farmers. Nixon appointed Earl Butz, an academic from the farming heartland of Indiana, to broker a compromise. Butz, an agriculture expert, had a radical plan that would transform the food we eat, and in doing so, the shape of the human race.

Butz pushed farmers into a new, industrial scale of production, and into farming one crop in particular: corn. quoting Jacques Peretti in UK’s The Guardian.
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February 18, 2013

President’s Day in America, 2013


Warren G. Harding, Andrew Jackson, Calvin Coolidge
Photos Everett Collection/Rex Features

“Washington’s Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States. It is also commonly known as Presidents Day (sometimes spelled Presidents’ Day or President’s Day). As Washington’s Birthday or Presidents Day, it is also the official name of a concurrent state holiday celebrated on the same day in a number of states,” quoting Wikipedia.
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Read more of President’s Day trivia from MSN.


February 17, 2013

Drones:
“The Obama Administration’s Dick Cheney Moment”


Photo: Barack Obama / Flickr

From Wilmer J Leon III, Truthout | Op-Ed:
“In an interview in 2007, then-senator Barack Obama said, ‘The president does not have power under the constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.’ He went on to say, ‘I reject the Bush administration’s claim that the president has plenary authority under the constitution to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.’ In 2013, Americans are facing a president with a different mindset.

A recently leaked white paper is providing insight into the legal justifications for the Obama administration’s ‘targeted killing’ program. The paper asserts that ‘high-leve'” government officials can ‘use lethal force in a foreign country … against a US citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force … actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans.’ This legal framework also explains how lethal force can be used even if the ‘high-level’ government officials do not have ‘clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.’

In September 2011, the administration used drone strikes to kill alleged al-Qaeda operatives Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was also killed by a drone strike. All three were US citizens, and none of them had been indicted by the US government for any crimes. According to The Guardian, ‘the drone program now is run out of the White House, where [nominee to head the CIA John] Brennan, the president’s most trusted counterterror adviser, helps Obama pick the targets.’

The rationale behind the administration’s ‘assassination by drone’ program sounds eerily reminiscent to former VP Dick Cheney’s ‘1 percent doctrine.’ Cheney believed the so-called war on terror empowered the Bush administration to invade sovereign countries and violate Americans’ civil liberties without the need for evidence or extensive analysis. The facts did not matter.”
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February 16, 2013

“Puget Sound Energy posts new one-day wind power record”

“Puget Sound Energy (PSE) set a new record for its energy facilities this week when nearly a quarter of the energy consumed from customers Feb. 12 came from wind power.

The companiys three wind farms provided around 23.5 percent of power received by PSE customers during the 24-hour period. On average, the facilities supply about 10 percent of all power used by PSEs customers.”

Read more from wind energy news.


February 15, 2013

Yelm Food Coop is our local “Non-GMO Retailer”

The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, offers North Americas only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO (genetically modified organism) food and products.

The retailers and non-profits listed here are committed to informed choice when it comes to GMOs, and endorse the Non-GMO Projects approach to ensuring the sustained availability of non-GMO options.
Click here for the Non-GMO Project list.

Locally, the Yelm Food Co-op is our Non-GMO Participating Retailer:

Click here


From the Yelm Food Co-op:
“The Co-op holds a wine tasting every Saturday from 1- 4 pm. Why not come and hear our resident sommelier, Anne Marsh, talk about her picks for the week? She’s a gourmet cook, too and will discuss pairings with food for each wine showcased that week. Yum! It’s really fun, educational and it’s free! Ask about case and mixed case pricing, as well.

The Co-op website now features the names of the showcased wines for the past month with Anne’s notes. Check it out!
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February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day to Yelm Community Blog Readers!


Photo courtesy of Yelm’s JZ-Rose,
Copyright 2001-2013. JZ Knight.
Used with permission.

“Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine’s cards, donating to charity or gifting candy. It is very common to present flowers on Valentine’s Day. The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished,” quoting Wikipedia.

This Valentines Day message first appeared on the Yelm Community Blog in 2008.


February 13, 2013

Yelm Blockbuster Video store is closing –
Regardless of mayor’s robust city assessment yesterday

Regardless of Mayor Ron Harding’s political theater yesterday in his “State of the City Address” to the approximately 100 Yelm Chamber of Commerce members in attendance, a major mufti-national chain is closing a high-profile, long-time presence and storefront in Yelm –
Blockbuster Video is having a Yelm-store-only closing sale.

Blockbuster has announced a sale where “everything must go.”

Editor’s Note:
As Mayor Harding gave his perfunctory upbeat State of the City Address yesterday, many businesses here are hurting. Yet, if he would just go out and talk to local business owners about their challenges and then share that truth with his constituents, he would be a hero here!
However, Harding is a political “junkie” bent on a career, now throwing his bags in with the Republican Party.


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