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Governors oppose national guard cuts
Governing
Governors may be divided when it comes to carrying out President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, but they’re united in their opposition to reducing Army National Guard forces. There’s “unanimity” against cuts among state executives gathered in Washington, D.C., for the National Governors Association’s winter meeting, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe told a crowd of reporters at a Kaiser Health News press conference. He said he expects the subject to come up during an upcoming meeting for governors at the White House.
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Public safety leaders blast Austin, Texas police after 911 investigation
KXAN-TV
After a KXAN investigation uncovered a deliberate plan to save money on overtime by reducing the hours emergency call-takers work, three Austin Public Safety Commission officials are questioning why their group was left in the dark regarding that information. “The (Public Safety Commission) has asked on multiple times for specific numbers, most especially number of 911 callers put into a recording mode, and (Austin Police Department) staff has responded that it did not have the equipment to provide these,” said PSC Vice Chair Mike Levy in an email to APD Assistant Chief Brian Manley. “APD staff has acknowledged that the 911 center has a high vacancy rate, that morale is low, that turnover is high.”
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Detroit bankrupcy judge urges city, bond insurers to seek settlement
Property Casualty 360
A federal judge recently gave Detroit and a group of bond insurance companies two or three weeks to settle a dispute over whether the city can treat certain bonds as unsecured debt, warning of an "all or nothing" ruling if no deal is reached. The outcome of the dispute could significantly affect the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market, where general obligation bonds backed by the full faith and credit pledge of cities, school districts and others has long been considered sacrosanct.
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Tennessee court rules that passing field sobriety tests may not matter
Claims Journal
Police may still have grounds to arrest people for DUI even if they pass field sobriety tests, the Tennessee Supreme Court said in a ruling announced. The decision involved a Sevier County man whose DUI charges were thrown out after he passed six field sobriety tests. The unanimous opinion reinstates the charges against David Dwayne Bell and his attorney said the case will be heard at a trial. “Mr. Bell looks forward to his day in court before a jury of his peers,” attorney Bryan Delius said. He said jurors would be able to see how well Bell did on the tests.
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Houston police budget cut battle raises questions about public safety
KHOU-TV
Lawyers look at home in the courtroom, firefighters don’t. But that is exactly where the Houston Firefighters Union took its fight to keep as many firefighters and paramedics on the streets as possible. “It is the most critical issue to the firefighters, which is the safety of the public,” said Michelle Bohreer, an attorney for the Firefighters Union. In an unusual move, the Houston Firefighters Union took the city to court hoping to stop the so-called rolling brownouts, the sidelining of various ambulances and fire trucks to try and help close a $8.5 million budget shortfall.
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Utah school district issues AR-15s to school police
KSL-TV
Law enforcement officers for the Granite School District are carrying AR-15 rifles in an effort to keep kids at school safe. Parents interviewed by KSL-TV said although they have mixed emotions about it, they would rather have officers equipped to handle an emergency to protect their kids. “It's kind of scary sending them off to school every morning,” said parent Melissa Stevens. “You never know what's going to happen." The Granite School District Police Department said it has equipped all officers with the rifles to help parents like Stevens rest assured their kids are safe.
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DC public safety employees' misconduct too often goes unpunished
The Washington Post
A report detailing the failure to help an elderly man who suffered a heart attack outside a D.C. fire station has recommended disciplinary action against the firefighters who turned their backs and the emergency dispatchers who bungled the 911 call. Good that the city administration wants to hold people accountable. But if past cases are any indication, that’s unlikely to happen, thanks to a cumbersome disciplinary process so weighted in favor of public employees that it protects incompetence.
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As mountain snow becomes perilous, forecasts are critical
NOAA
Each winter people venture into the mountainous back country for outdoor fun such as skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, and snowmobiling. But as any adventurous skier or snowboarder knows, keeping informed by the latest weather and snow conditions is critical — especially where the potential for avalanches is high. On average 28 people die in avalanches in the United States each year. It goes without saying that as the number of outdoor enthusiasts increases, so does the risk that more people will be hurt or killed in avalanches.
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How safe are Philadelphia elementary schools?
The Inquirer
After a 5-year-old girl allegedly was abducted from a West Philadelphia school and raped in January 2013, School District officials said they were mounting a comprehensive review of security procedures at their buildings. "We want to get ahead of things," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Cynthia Dorsey, who was in charge of the district's Office of School Safety at the time, had said last March. But more than a year after the widely publicized incident at William Cullen Bryant Elementary, at 60th Street and Cedar Avenue — in which a woman wearing Muslim garb allegedly posed as the girl's mother — two parents are wondering whether their children remain vulnerable to security lapses.
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Investigation questions Texas oil field safety
Claims Journal
Injury claims, government data and public records of oil field accidents since the start of the onshore drilling and fracking boom in 2007 show the federal government failed to implement safety standards and procedures, according to a Houston Chronicle investigation. The examination also shows a lack of government inspections and shoddy practices by many oil and gas companies. The newspaper says the result is a toll of badly injured or killed workers. Texas accounted for about 40 percent of the 663 workers the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said were killed nationwide in oil field-related industries between 2007 and 2012, the Houston Chronicle reported.
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