The disabled head of a disability charity has been

first_imgThe disabled head of a disability charity has been criticised by the charities watchdog after a full-page photograph of her was used – with her permission – in the Conservative party’s election manifesto.Ruth Owen, chief executive of Whizz-Kidz, is pictured in her wheelchair on page 44 of the manifesto, contravening strict rules on charities supporting particular political parties.The charity – which supports young disabled people to access the right mobility equipment – has defended her actions, arguing that she was not named in the manifesto and was appearing only as an “anonymous” disabled person and not as a representative of Whizz-Kidz.Owen was recognised with an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2012, but she insists that her appearance in the Tory manifesto (pictured) does not signify support for the party.The Charity Commission has now spoken to Whizz-Kidz about the photograph, after the picture was drawn to its attention by Disability News Service.A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “The charity has explained that Ruth Owen agreed for her photograph to appear in the manifesto as a private individual, on the basis that her name would not be included, and the charity would not be named.“We have advised the charity that, given the profile of Ruth Owen and of the charity, the inclusion of her photograph could potentially give rise to the impression that the charity has associated itself with or endorses a political party.“That would run counter to our guidance on campaigning and political activity, which makes clear that a charity must not give its support to any one political party and trustees must ensure perceptions of their independence are not adversely affected.“All charities must ensure that their independence is maintained, and perceptions of independence are not adversely affected. “As charity regulator we expect charity trustees to take account of this fundamental requirement as a core part of their decision-making processes.“We have sent the charity a reminder of our guidance and explained that this needs to be brought to the attention of the trustees.”The case has parallels with an investigation carried out by the commission after the last election in 2010.That complaint involved Debbie Scott, the chief executive of the employment charity Tomorrow’s People, whose full-page photograph – and comments – appeared in the Conservative manifesto.A report published by the commission following its investigation warned other charities: “Contributing to an election manifesto or any party political publication would have the inevitable result of providing or encouraging support for a particular political party, or at the very least, the perception of doing so.“As a charity cannot support or encourage support for any political party, the Commission is unable to see how a charity could demonstrate that it had sufficiently considered and managed all the risks arising from a decision to contribute to an election manifesto or party political publication.”A Whizz-Kidz spokesman said that Owen appeared only as “an anonymous member of the public; a female wheelchair-user”.He said: “When asked if she could have her photograph taken, it was under the assurance that neither her name, title, nor the organisation she works for would be cited. She was also informed she could keep the images for her own use.”He said that Owen was “not endorsing the Conservative Party by appearing in the image, nor – as demonstrated by an absence of comment, quote or recognition of the charity – is Whizz-Kidz”.He said Whizz-Kidz worked “across the political spectrum”, and in the last 12 months had presented a fundraising award to Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, and was involved in a fundraiser at Everton Football Club for shadow health secretary Andy Burnham’s own fund-raising marathon.He added: “In the past, we have sponsored the all-party parliamentary group for wheelchair reform, chaired by a Liberal Democrat MP; and we regularly hold fringe events at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences, as well as other parliamentary events with a range of MPs – giving disabled youngsters and their parents the chance to speak for themselves.”Owen has so far failed to say whether she was aware of the Charity Commission rules governing such situations when she agreed to the picture, and whether she will apologise for her decision to appear in the manifesto.last_img read more

Developments in Development The Road Ahead

first_imgI predict that bars inside other bars, which I admit I had no idea was a thing, is a trend that will fizzle in 2017. Partly because, as Lou Bustamante notes in that Chronicle piece, people might not really know they’re there. Also partly because I think moves like naming a drink after Hurricane Sandy (which really sucked, by the way) might be taking the “theme” thing a little over the top. I predict more longtime businesses closing on Valencia and being replaced with vendors whose primary revenue comes from online sales. We already saw that, and I think it’s probably part of what prompted John King to tell Curbed in polite terms that he’s over Valencia.I predict more architects will try bizarre designs for big developments, be rebuffed by the Planning Commission and public comparisons to lampshades, and then tone it down, like this formerly frenetic building planned for the Mission. Infrastructure is another element of the controller’s report and the city’s ability to support growth in general, and we’re not exactly getting stellar marks on that front. Curbed reports that the San Francisco-Oakland region (odd way of defining a region, but then again this data comes from a group in DC) has the worst roads, a dubious honor we seem to have claimed before. On a more somber note: San Francisco also lays claim to three of the most dangerous school crossing zones in the state, according to a CBS local report. One of them is right in front of Marshall Elementary School. This is no joke. And the ever present growth-related issue of housing is entering a new era of contention – see as an example this Airbnb pad being surveilled by a private investigator hired to see if the previous tenants’ eviction was legit. Bloomberg has that wacky story, which I suspect will become par for the course during the next year or so, especially after that killer NBC investigation about owner-move-in evictions.Other off-the-cuff predictions for the next year: Developments in Development is a weekly column recapping real estate, business, planning, zoning and construction news.It’s over! Now on to the next mess that will be 2017. And much as we have tooted the horn of how horrible 2016 was, we have challenges ahead. Consider that San Francisco is, according to Curbed and the city controller, almost at its growth limit. Even if we built as much office space as legally possible in the city, the controller reports, companies that want to expand in the city have nowhere to go. Also, the city is facing budget shortfall projections of oh, you know, just $848 million by 2022 if it doesn’t take corrective action. I’m sure it will, but that is a pretty impressive number!Meanwhile, fewer major housing proposals started the application process for development this year, SocketSite reports, so depending on how you feel about big developments you might have that to look forward to / brace yourself for in the coming years. Tags: development • housing • real estate Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img 0% Onward and upward! last_img read more

Charter school advocates get down and some say dirty

first_imgThe event was sponsored by Innovate Public Schools, and Ayres and multiple other attendees said this anodyne name gave them little notion of what was to come. “Innovate” is one of the most ubiquitous words tossed around regarding the educational system; several attendees told Mission Local they assumed this was a district-sponsored event. Au contraire. Innovate is a South Bay-based group founded in 2013 and describing itself as a “nonprofit organization whose mission is to build the parent and community demand for world-class public schools, and to accelerate the growth of these schools, particularly for low-income students and students of color.”Fair enough. But achieving this end has, reliably, taken the form of agitation for charter schools. The organization is generously funded by pro-charter outfits such as the Walton Family Foundation, which has put hundreds of millions of dollars into bankrolling taxpayer-funded, privately operated schools nationwide. Innovate’s own founding documents state that its raison d’être is to “focus on education reform that will support the creation of new charter schools and innovative district schools, parent choice, and strong systems of accountability.”Prior to turning its eyes to the north, Innovate won contentious battles in the San Jose area, besting opponents claiming that charter schools are cannibalizing the public system. They began quietly cultivating black and Latino parents in the Bayview and Mission two years ago, but it’s only in the last several months that this has garnered much attention. The organization began saturating area residents’ social media feeds with links to its report claiming San Francisco schools are the very worst in all of California for poor students of color.(The district disputes Innovate’s use of the data — but there’s no way to make the stats look good; generations of minority parents have complained that San Francisco’s schools have failed them, and the gaping achievement gap shows no indications of narrowing in the short term.)  Innovate’s report is titled, “A Dream Deferred,” a Langston Hughes reference lost on few. Also lost on few is the exquisite quality of this document’s online form, which allows readers ample opportunity to share it with elected officials — and share their personal data with Innovate — at the push of a button. Innovate’s most recent tax forms indicate it grossed more than $4 million in 2015 alone, and its slick materials, excellent website, and a communications staff dwarfing the San Francisco Unified School District’s are indicative of that. But, here in San Francisco, Innovate is also operating like a much leaner — and meaner — operation. Last month, Innovate trumpeted on social media that it would be holding a “Parents’ Research Meeting” at Everett Middle School in the Mission. The announcement stated that assistant superintendent Tony Payne, who oversees San Francisco’s Mission-area schools, and Fernando Nunez, the director of the multilingual pathways department, would be present. Attendees were informed that parking was available in the school’s lot. And yet, Everett staff — including its principal — had no idea who this group was; they didn’t even know this meeting was taking place. The school’s facilities manager confirmed that nobody asked him if they could park on school property. An attendee of that meeting says it consisted of a woman describing herself as an “organizer” handing a script to parents, who then read questions to Payne. Nunez did not attend, and Payne did not return our calls; it is unclear if he knew who he was meeting with. But he certainly knows now: the glossy report indicating this city’s students of color fare worse than any others in the state was also liberally referenced and disseminated. Innovate gave that report at its coming-out party at an October City Hall rally. But, despite the announced presence of individual NAACP members, both the state and national NAACP have, rather unambiguously, called for a moratorium on charter schools. Nonetheless, Innovate has disseminated promotional material liberally excerpting criticisms of San Francisco schools from the Rev. Amos Brown, the head of the local branch of the NAACP. That flier urges concerned readers to send a text message that both funnels them into an Innovate database and transmits Innovate’s “Children First Pledge” to city officials. Brown is less than thrilled about being enlisted in this effort. “You can tell everybody you see, whether in hell or heaven, that it is not my position to support Innovate and their move for charter schools,” Brown told us. “I want to make it crystal clear to those people: They are not to use my name in support of no charter school! I don’t appreciate this one bit.” Mission Local has heard many such stories: Innovate staff packing public meetings and clapping and shouting at the right times; Innovate employees crashing seminars intended for parents, participating in them, and scouting for recruits; Innovate staff trying to gain entry into community organizations. These are tactics more befitting campus Marxists or Lyndon LaRouche acolytes than a multi-million-dollar nonprofit with dozens of employees and a coterie of extremely wealthy backers. But the strategies employed by scrappy ideological groups do work — and can be even more effective when you have big bucks on-hand to pay professional organizers. Innovate’s critics have accused it of being an “astroturfing” operation — a purveyor of phony grass-roots support named for the plastic grass once ubiquitous on indoor sports fields. But this accusation misses the point: Whatever one thinks of Innovate’s agenda, the intensity and potency of its organizing is not up for debate. Put succinctly: These people are organized. In fact, they’re hiring lots more organizers. Innovate’s damning report about this city’s achievement gap isn’t just visually stunning. It’s also plausible. This city’s failure of its minority communities is not an abstract concept for the parents who attend Innovate rallies and grab the microphone. Innovate founder and CEO Matt Hammer bristles at the notion that the black and Latino parents — and churches — working with his organization and serving as its public face are being paid off. Their concern is real. Their fear and anger are justified.  It also happens to dovetail with the agenda of a Silicon Valley nonprofit that happens to be funded by big-money players who can be credibly accused of attempting to unmake the public education system.  Academics, meanwhile, are unimpressed with the actual substance of Innovate’s findings. The test being used as a cudgel by Innovate, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), has come under fire as a broken and unreliable measure of student performance. San Jose State professor Roxana Marachi is one of more than 100 education researchers who has called for this exam to be junked. Among myriad complaints, she claims the test is riddled with “technological glitches” that render it far from “standardized.” The SBAC, she continues, is “designed so that 70 percent of those taking it fail,” and performance is correlated to family income to an uncanny degree. “This is my biggest criticism of Innovate,” she says. “They know the tests are invalid. But they’re still pushing this because they want to create new schools. Charter schools.”Hammer tells me that charter schools are “just a piece of the puzzle,” and that, despite years of effort sowing (even more) rancor with the district, he wants San Francisco Unified to succeed, not fail. The CEO adds that he has “amazing people on my team” who’ve offered to help the school district start up “amazing district public schools.” Amazingly, no one from the district has gotten back to him on that. Hammer’s group emphasizes accountability — an element that is sorely lacking in all corners of San Francisco government. But accountability works both ways. If Innovate really is about empowering the poor families of color and improving existing schools — and not just about serving the “charter schools uber alles” mantra of its donors — we will all be here to take note of it. School may be out. But this isn’t over. 0% CarolineAyres just wanted to hear about her kids’ school system. What she got was the hybrid of a political rally and a revival meeting. “It was,” she recalls, “an attempt at conversion via emotional outreach.”  It happened earlier this month on Mission Street, in a Sons of Italy outpost promising reasonable rates for its hall of mirrors. There, speaker after speaker excoriated the deplorable state of San Francisco’s public schools, particularly for black and Latino students, and lauded the work of charter schools, which were described as “our private educational institutions” by an African American clergyman. Ayres, by the way, is not reflexively anti-charter school; her kids go to a charter school here in the city. But the level of rancor and fervency she encountered that night left her uneasy. After 90-odd minutes of speeches — “No bathroom breaks! No nothing!” Ayres recalls — the 150 or more attendees were told to fill out “commitment forms” and whip out their mobile phones for a “mass text” of our elected leaders. As much personal information as possible — phone numbers, e-mail addresses — was gleaned. “They wanted to you sign their pledge and send the text,” says Ayres, “and they watched you like a hawk to make sure you did.”center_img Tags: education Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

Demolition on 24th Street Architect couple building dream home workspace

first_imgThe new structure — which Meek said will include “a very familiar horizontal slat appearance” on the upper levels and a glass storefront facing the street — should be completed in about a year. Meek, Pilotte, and their children plan to return to the home, and Meek hopes to move her architecture firm back into the commercial unit, possibly renting part of it as a shared workspace. Pilotte now works for a Palo Alto-based firm.Meek said the western side of the building will be set back from the property line to create something like an alley. “I love alleys, and how cities have little remnants of things from the past,” she said. “Even though this is private, and not really an alley, it’s inspired by the unique open spaces that you find in cities.” Also, she said, it will let light and air inside.In the storefront windows facing the street, Meek said they may continue featuring the work of local artists, as they did for many years (with the help of their friend, artist Cynthia Milionis) until vandals destroyed the glass one time too many. But after four months of delays on the project while awaiting a utility company to curtail service, Meek said they’re moving ahead one step at a time, and trying not to make too many concrete plans.Moving back in, setting up shop, thinking about the windows: “We’ll get there as we get there,” she said. “You never know until you get there.” The 1905-era building came down Friday, Jan. 3. By the end of the weekend, all that remained at 3040 24th St. was a mini excavator and utility lines exposed by the demolition.In its place, 18-year residents Susannah Meek and Jeffrey Pilotte — both architects — will build their future home: a 3-story multi-use building with two floors of residence over a ground-level commercial unit at the site where they’ve been living and working since 2001.Meek, who specializes in designing schools, and Pilotte, who focuses on residential architecture, have been designing and planning the new home and workspace since they bought the building.Over the years, the couple and their children fell in love with the single-story, stone-faced building — but they also outgrew it, Meek said. And they learned a lot about what they wanted from the site, in addition to what had come before. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Email Addresscenter_img More Demolition ComingMeek’s former home and office was the first building on the 24th Street commercial corridor to be demolished since 2005, but two more could soon follow. Across the street on the same block, a demolition permit was issued Dec. 31, 2018, for the two-story building flanked by Harrison Street and Balmy Alley. That demolition will make way for a proposed low-income senior housing development that’s been in the works since 2009.At 24th and Valencia, a permit to demolish the existing gas station is pending approval, but a permit to build a 6-story, 35-unit residential and retail building at the site was issued on Jan. 2. “It’s not a historical building,” Meek said, “but it does have a history.”When they bought the building, classified in city documents as a “flat and store,” it housed an art gallery run by Kelly Luscombe. A Christmas Day advertisement in the 1951 San Francisco Chronicle reveals United Television Service Co. was located there. One day last summer, Meek opened the door to a stranger: a restorer of antique safes who found their address on a safe he was working on. It came from a grocery store that once called their address home.Meek and her husband, both architects, have based S Meek Architecture and Jeff Pilotte Design at the address. They even hosted their wedding there.The now-vacant lot is surrounded by Alley Cat Bookstore and Maurice Corner Liquor on 24th Street and a Treat Avenue home at the rear.last_img read more

THIS month Hattons Solicitors are giving away a ye

first_imgTHIS month Hattons Solicitors are giving away a year’s FREE gym membership at Gymbug in St Helens to one lucky Hattons Gold member.In a time of News Year’s Resolutions you could get fit in the New Year with this great competition prize to be drawn in January 2013.What is Hattons Gold Membership?To enter this competition you need to join Hattons Gold Membership online. Anyone can join Hattons Gold Membership, as long as they have an email address that has not been used by anyone else to register, and are over 18.It’s completely free to join online giving members a variety of special offers and competitions from lots of business’ plus discounts for some of Hattons Solicitors legal services.How to Sign Up and Enter This CompetitionYou can sign up to Hattons Gold for free by clicking here.You will receive a welcome email followed by the monthly e-newsletter three days after signing up with details of how to enter the competition.You will only be sent an email with Hattons Gold offers once a month, there is no obligation to use Hattons services and your information will not be passed on to third parties.Deadline for registering with Hattons Gold and entering this competition is Friday January 11 2013.Please click here if you would like to find out more about Hattons Gold and the other special offers available.Enter today for your chance to win and good luck!Terms and ConditionsThis competition will end on Friday January 11 2013. The winner will be informed on Monday January 14 2013. Prizes are none transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash. Your contact details will not be passed onto any third parties. Winners will be contacted via email. Winners will have 30 days to claim their prize. If you would like further information about this competition or Hattons Gold then please call us on 08000 111 563 or email gold@hattonslaw.comFor the latest news from Hattons Solicitors join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitterlast_img read more

MIKE Rush has been appointed CEO of StHelens RF

first_imgMIKE Rush has been appointed CEO of St.Helens R.F.C.Mike has been with the Club for more than 13 years and in that time has held a number of senior positions including Head of Youth Development, Assistant Coach, Head Coach and, most recently, General Manager.Chairman Eamonn McManus stated: “Mike is ideally qualified and suited for the position of CEO of the Saints. He has extensive relevant experience in every area of the Club’s operations and has made a great success of all his roles at the Club over an extensive period.“His loyalty and talent are undoubted and he is totally committed to the success of the Saints as one of the world’s leading professional rugby league clubs.”Mike Rush added: “I’m delighted to take up the position of CEO at the Saints. I have been with the club a long time and I am looking forward to contributing to the next stage of its development.“I fully believe we are entering an exciting new era at the Saints. We have a fantastic new stadium at Langtree Park and a new training facility at Cowley International College and I am sure we are now well positioned to realise the best commercial return for the club both on and off the field.”last_img read more

SAINTS have announced their 19man squad for Frida

first_imgSAINTS have announced their 19-man squad for Friday’s First Utility Super League opener with Catalans Dragons at Langtree Park.Travis Burns and Atelea Vea are set to make their debuts whilst Andre Savelio has also been included in the 19.Luke Walsh, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Luke Thompson miss out through injury.Keiron Cunningham will choose from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Thomas Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Travis Burns, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Atelea Vea, 12. Jon Wilkin, 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Lance Hohaia, 17. Mark Percival, 19. Greg Richards, 20. Paul Wellens, 21. Joe Greenwood, 25. Andre Savelio.Laurent Frayssinous will select his Catalan side from:1. Morgan Escaré, 2. Vincent Duport, 3. Ben Pomeroy, 4. Willie Tonga, 5. Michael Oldfield, 6. Todd Carney, 8. Olivier Elima, 9. Ian Henderson, 10. Rémi Casty, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Louis Anderson, 13. Gregory Mounis, 14. Thomas Bosc, 15. Jeff Lima, 16. Eloi Pelissier, 17. Elliott Whitehead, 18. Benjamin Garcia, 21. Julian Bousquet, 24. Jason Baitieri.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be Phil Bentham.For ticket details please click here.last_img read more

THE first team squad teamed up with Saints Communi

first_imgTHE first team squad teamed up with Saints Community Development Foundation to spread a little festive cheer at Whiston Hospital.The lads made their annual trip to the Children’s Ward to meet patients, parents and staff, and drop off some Saintly gifts.We’d like to thank everyone at Whiston Hospital for making us welcome and we wish them all a Merry Christmas.last_img

Gregory student named semifinalist in NC National Geographic State Bee

first_img The contest will be held on Friday, April 6 at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.School Bees were held in schools with 4th – 8th grade students throughout the state to determine each school champion. School champions then took a qualifying test, which was submitted to the National Geographic Society. The National Geographic Society has invited up to 100 of the top-scoring students in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Dependents Schools and U.S. territories to compete in the State Bees.The cash prize for the top three students in each state has doubled. Each state champion will receive $200, the National Geographic Visual Atlas of the World, 2nd edition and a trip to Washington, D.C., to represent their state in the National Geographic Bee Championship to be held at National Geographic Society headquarters, May 20-23. Students that come in second place will receive $150, and those that come in third will receive $100.Related Article: Committee looks at updating Title IX policy in New Hanover schoolsThe first-place national champion will receive a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the Society, including a subscription to National Geographic magazine, and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expedition to the Galapagos Islands aboard the new National Geographic Endeavour II. Travel for the trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. Second and third place finishers will receive $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively. Visit for more information on the National Geographic Bee.National Geographic will stream the final round of the National Geographic Bee Championship starting May 24 at Maddie David is a 7th grade student at The International School at Gregory. (Photo: New Hanover County Schools) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A New Hanover County middle schooler is one of the semifinalist in the 2018 North Carolina National Geographic State Bee.Maddie David, a 7th grader at The International School at Gregory, was recently notified by the National Geographic Society that she made it to the second level of the the competition.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Wilmington lawyer weighs in on deportation case

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After a Wilmington man had his citizenship revoked for sexually abusing a child, a Wilmington immigration attorney is breaking down the process of denaturalization.Prempeh Ernest Agyemang, 58, was admitted to the United States in 1989. He began molesting a child in 1999 or early 2000.- Advertisement – After the abuse began, Agyemang stated during his naturalization interview that he had never committed a crime or offense for which he was not arrested. He pleaded guilty to the abuse in 2003. 15 years later, he will be deported back to Ghana.Wilmington immigration attorney Vanessa Gonzalez says immigrants can be denaturalized just for lying or misrepresenting themselves on their citizenship application, regardless of the severity of the crime, or how long they have been a citizen of the United States.However, she says that is not the case with Agyemang.Related Article: Democrat US House candidate McCready not for Trump impeachment“Priorities have always been to focus not only denying immigration benefits but revoking immigration benefits for folks that are criminally culpable for specific abhorrent crimes. So someone in that situation would usually always fall onto the radar regardless of fraud in their application, because it’s the criminal conviction that brings them to light,” said Gonzalez.Gonzalez says in the past, denaturalization typically was not a priority for the U.S. government due to lack of resources. But as technology advances, and hard paper copies become digital files, the process has become much easier.Gonzalez also says that denaturalization can be politically motivated. She cited a case in which a woman had been charged with shoplifting, but did not list it on her naturalization application. She said the crime would not have prevented her from becoming a citizen, but lying about it could have caused her to be deported.“There was a Supreme Court case that happened last year that an applicant for naturalization had omitted a basic fact in her application, and the government sought to denaturalize her. And the Supreme Court determined that it was not material to her naturalization,” said Gonzalez.Gonzalez also says what can be considered a misrepresentation is a gray area.“If there’s a question that says have you ever been convicted of a crime, on a job application, here in North Carolina, if you were given deferred prosecution and you ended up doing community service but it was dismissed, that’s not a conviction. Under immigration law, this is a conviction,” said Gonzalez.As far as Agyemang, he must surrender his certificate of naturalization, and will be deported back to Ghana.A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office could not say how long that process will take.last_img read more