Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Buffalo News, June 25, 2008, Wednesday

The Buffalo News

June 25, 2008, Wednesday

The Buffalo News

Reform will hold IDAs accountable and help Buffalo
By Lou Jean Fleron

In the first hot sun of June, citizens rallied in front of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency on Oak Street behind a banner that read “Living Wages for a Livable City.” Passing traffic in old and new cars, delivery vans and 18-wheelers honked their votes for decent jobs and living wages.

Those votes need to be translated into the passage of Assemblyman Sam Hoyt’s IDA reform legislation that will establish job standards, accountability measures, transparency procedures and environmental standards in exchange for public subsidies to private businesses.

Across New York, local IDAs deal with our money, handing out more than $400 million per year in tax breaks, too often providing subsidies that fail to promote real economic development and do not deliver the jobs they promise.

Quality job standards are good for workers, for communities, and also for business. The top 10 “pro-business states” — Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alabama, Georgia and Nebraska — all have enacted wage standards on development subsidies.

Prevailing wage requirements also benefit taxpayers and working families. A recent study of Federal Highway Administration data found that costs per mile of highway are lower among those states which pay higher hourly wages. Because of higher productivity, the high-wage states averaged over $30,000 per mile savings to taxpayers.

Here in the Queen City, the second poorest city in America, nearly 29 percent of us live in poverty. Good jobs with health care, benefits and pensions continue to disappear. Auto workers are forced to take “buy downs” to gradually lower their standard of living to satisfy the insatiable greed of global capital markets.

Poverty, joblessness and inequality are the reasons we have economic development policies. We cannot afford to continue to perpetuate these conditions by continuing to subsidize failure. Upstate New Yorkers need good jobs, not just any jobs, as a return on our investment in business development.

In this celebrated and proud blue-collar town, people spontaneously support wages that allow families to live self-sufficiently, educate their children, buy their homes and contribute to their communities. When we give up tax revenues needed for schools, roads, parks, libraries, public safety and public health, we expect to receive in exchange living wage jobs.

The drive-by living wage supporters on Oak Street honked in solidarity because in Buffalo we stand, as Tim Russert said, “side by side, shoulder by shoulder.” Our history and our experiences teach us that a strong local economy will be built only on good jobs that attract and retain a skilled work force. That is the primary purpose of IDAs. It is time we held them accountable.

Lou Jean Fleron is director of workforce, industry and economic development at the Cornell University Industrial and Labor Relations School in Buffalo.

Utica Observer Dispatch, June 24, 2008, Tuesday

Utica Observer Dispatch

June 24, 2008, Tuesday

Utica Observer Dispatch

Firefighters to earn more for ambulance duty, inspections
Utica also considering upgrading pensions


UTICA — Utica firefighters who are assigned to ride an ambulance will receive more money, one benefit of a newly ratified contract with the city.

The Utica Professional Firefighters Association voted 102-18 in favor of the new contract, which the Board of Estimate & Apportionment recently approved unanimously. The previous contract expired March 31, 2007, but the terms remained in place during negotiations.

UTICA — The Common Council will host a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 1 Kennedy Plaza.

The agenda includes consideration of an ordinance to purchase sweeper equipment for the Department of Public Works without competitive bid.

The council Finance Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. to discuss approval of a bond ordinance to pay for a retirement plan in the city firefighters’ new contractual agreement.
Highlights of the new agreement include:

* Firefighters who are assigned to ride an ambulance on a normal duty day will receive a stipend of $50. That’s a $15 increase over the previous contract agreement. Only four firefighters will receive that stipend during a 24-hour period, city officials said.

* Firefighters who conduct inspections will receive a stipend for the work. The recently ratified contract gives firefighters $250 for inspecting commercial sites in the city. The state recently mandated a Commercial Code Enforcement fee program, but it has yet to begin in Utica.

Twelve months after the first commercial inspection, firefighters who conduct inspections will receive the stipend. That is in addition to the $500 stipend firefighters receive for the rental-occupancy-permit program, which inspects rental dwelling units.

* The city agreed for the term of the contract, until sunset on March 31, 2011, no member of the firefighters’ union will be laid off.

The Common Council Finance Committee will discuss Wednesday night whether it will bond for firefighters to receive the upgraded pension plan. Firefighters agreed to take a 2 percent salary increase each year for the next four years if the council approves the 384-e state pension plan.

That pension plan allows union members to add the additional benefit of 1/60th of their pay for service in excess of 20 years to their total final average salary. The final average salary determines what figure will be used to calculate a retiree’s pension.

For now, the 2 percent salary increases, rather than a 4 percent increase each year, is beneficial for the city, union president Bob Wenner said.

“That’s far below the inflation rate, so it was a good deal for both sides,” Wenner said.

Frank Meola, Finance Committee co-chairman, said he’s not convinced he’ll support the resolution.

“I don’t believe the 384-e, which the city has to take a loan out for, is in the best interest of the financial future of the city,” said Meola, D-at-large. “The firefighters already have a very good retirement program.”

Tony Arcuri, city budget director, said the city will see immediate savings if firefighters receive a 2 percent salary increase over the length of the contract. He strongly recommended the council approve the bond resolution.

The city wouldn’t have to make any payments on the pension bonds until the 2009-10 fiscal year, Arcuri said.

Firefighters are currently working under the newly ratified agreement and are waiting for the council to render its decision on the pension plan, Wenner said.

Mayor David Roefaro said there is a minimum complement the city must maintain for firefighters, so no layoffs were predicted.

Lee Adler, who teaches public sector collective bargaining at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said nothing in the contract seemed unusual.

On the pension issue, Adler said it could be a good agreement for the city not to “burn cash on the short term.”

“What the city gets from that, again, in a short-term budget situation, they look better because they’re not paying higher wages,” Adler said. “But, in the long-term it’s not so good for the city because they’ll be paying it out in the future.”

Meola said his concern is the future burden on city taxpayers. The Finance Committee will review the issue, but the whole council will weigh-in, he said.

“All the financials concerning the future debt of the city versus salary increases will be discussed with the council in its entirety,” he said.

The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), June 19, 2008, Thursday

Copyright 2008 Post-Standard

All Rights Reserved.

The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York)

June 19, 2008, Thursday




BYLINE: Editorial assistant Brenda Duncan


Editorial assistant Brenda Duncan interviewed Mark Spadafore, of Liverpool. He was recently elected to his third term on the board of the Liverpool Public Library.

Name: Mark Spadafore

Age: 38

Where do you live? 824 Second St., Liverpool

How long have you lived here? 12 years

Do you have a family? I have a wife, Karen, and a dog, Mini.

Educational background: I have a bachelor's in political science, history and secondary social studies education from Keuka College. I've also taken courses at Cornell University through the Industrial Labor Relations School.

Occupation: I am the executive director of the Syracuse Alliance for a New Economy -- they go by the acronym SANE.

How long have you been in the job? Since August of last year.

What is SANE? SANE is a not-for-profit that advocates for responsible economic development. That's the short answer.

What do you like best about your job? SANE is a brand new 501c3 so I'm building the organization from the ground up and that's very challenging. As I like to say to people, it's like I'm building a house while hosting a dinner party.

What is the most challenging aspect? Right now, it's just me and I have two paid interns. It's kind of like I'm kind of the jack of all trades. I'm raising money to keep the organization going while also doing the nuts and bolts stuff.

How long have you been on the Liverpool Public Library board? I just got elected to my third term so I've been on the board for 10 years. I also have the distinction to be the only person on the board to win a contested election for board trustee, that was 10 years ago.

What is the board's role? Our role is to really be the community voice in library matters. A lot of people don't realize this, but the Liverpool Public Library is the busiest library in the county. We get more people coming through our doors than come through the downtown library. And we have a reputation of being a very progressive, cutting-edge library. That's attributed to decisions that are made by the trustees, but really it's the staff. The staff are the ones that really make that place go well.

Why did you decide to get involved initially? A few different things. One, I worked there for eight years when I was younger. At the time, there was a lot of transition going on at the library and I thought I could play a role in bringing someone who also worked there but also someone who is a patron of the library and bring that perspective.

What do you find more rewarding about your work with the board? Working with my fellow trustees -- there are seven of us and we're all very dedicated, community-minded people, and that's really a thrill to be around good, smart people who just want to do the right thing for the right reasons. The other piece of it is to just be a part of an organization that is so progressive and runs really well because I believe that libraries are vital organizations for democracy. The free-flow of information is very important to have an informed electorate which is vitally important for a democracy. Libraries are kind of a vanguard against fascism.

Do you have a proudest moment? When my wife said "yes" to marry me.

The greatest obstacle I've overcome: Dealing with some people in the community who are just reticent to change.

My favorite quote: This used to be on the signature of all my emails, "Some days you contemplate the great mysteries of life. Other days, you just want a piece of chocolate cake."

My pet peeve: Intolerant people.

The most serious question facing my community: I think it's the growing rates of poverty in Liverpool. I saw a statistic that around half of the students at Liverpool Elementary are on federal lunch programs. People are shocked when they hear that but I think we need to start addressing that Liverpool is increasingly becoming a community divided along income lines.

When you were a child, what did you dream about becoming? I wanted to be Reggie Jackson.

Do you have a silly habit? I like playing video games -- being 38 that might be silly.

What are your favorite movies? "Citizen Kane" and "The Shawshank Redemption"

The best advice I ever heard: Always go with your strengths.

One thing I definitely want to do in my lifetime: Travel the world. I want to go to every continent.

What are you most passionate about? Justice -- justice is the public expression of love.

One thing about me that would surprise people: At my core, I'm really kind of a shy guy.

The best gift I've ever given: When I was in college, I made a videotape of a day in my life for my mom. It was a gift for her, but years later, I found it and it was a gift to myself to see how far I had come.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO Hal Slate/The Post-Standard MARK SPADAFORE has just been reelected to the board of the Liverpool Public Library.

LOAD-DATE: June 20, 2008

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York), June 18, 2008, Wednesday

Copyright 2008 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

All Rights Reserved

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York)

June 18, 2008, Wednesday


HEADLINE: Monroe vows oversight on labor abuses

BYLINE: Jim Stinson


Staff writer

Monroe County's economic development agency will take a more aggressive stand on the labor practices of companies receiving tax incentives.

After criticism that the county had not been following up on companies that are granted incentives, County Executive Maggie Brooks gathered labor and government officials at the Watts Building on Tuesday and outlined reforms that the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency would implement.

County officials said that while they lack jurisdiction to enforce state and federal laws relating to some of the labor problems, they intend to report abuses to the appropriate authorities. The county said it was being proactive as the New York Assembly considers reforming laws governing the state's industrial development agencies.

The county will use at least two outside monitors to keep track of compliance, Brooks said.

One abuse that Brooks said the county will monitor aggressively is employers' issuance of Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 to report workers' income and taxes instead of Form W-2. In most cases, the employers should be using the W-2 form, officials said, but they use the 1099 to avoid paying Social Security taxes and premiums for worker's compensation.

Calling the 1099 abuse "rampant," Frank Wirt, president of the Rochester Building Trades Association, said the illegal activity occurs when an employer ignores legal standards and wrongly classifies employees as "independent contractors."

Wirt said a Cornell University study found that millions of dollars is lost every year because of misclassification of workers and illegal use of Form 1099.

The 2007 study, conducted by Linda Donahue, James Lamare and Fred Kotler of Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, estimated that 700,000 New York workers are misclassified each year, with the government missing out on some taxation of $4.2 billion in wages. Those numbers mean that about $175 million in unemployment taxes is uncollected, the report found.

Wrongful use of the 1099 form is a felony in New York, Brooks said.

The county also will use an independent group to monitor exemptions that allow companies to use non-local labor. The county has a compliance rate of almost 100 percent with the local-labor guideline.

Finally, the COMIDA board will spend $75,000 annually to boost apprenticeship programs, which union leaders said need improvement.

The board of COMIDA passed the reforms at its monthly meeting later Tuesday.

LOAD-DATE: June 20, 2008

News Ten Now, June 17, 2008, Tuesday

News Ten Now

June 17, 2008, Tuesday

News Ten Now

Study shows few women are firefighters

By: Allison Lazarz

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Firefighting is "men's work." At least that's what a study co-authored by Cornell University faculty member Francine Moccio found.

Her research of more than 100 departments in 48 states found that less than four percent of paid firefighters in the nation are women.

"Seventy-five percent of the women surveyed said that they had some type of incident in their fire service department, whether it was harassment or innuendos or experiences of isolation," said Moccio, co-author of the study "A National Report Card on Women in Firefighting."

Leah Stoner isn't a paid firefighter. She volunteers in Cayuga Heights and said she's never had a bad experience with her department.

"Our department is really good about treating men and women equally. It's very friendly, very open, more of a progressive type department I guess you could say," said Stoner.

Moccio said that women in volunteer departments don't always face the harassment and exclusion that her study finds going on in paid departments because there's no money involved.

"There isn't the competition for the wage and competition for the small number of people recruited that get the job, so it becomes more of a contest," said Moccio.

Even though Stoner hasn't had any problems with her department, she said that before she became a firefighter, the idea that it's a male dominated profession did concern her a little bit.

"I was under the impression that it might be more male-centric and hard for a woman to get into and enjoy herself and when I joined here I was completely disproven," said Stoner.

Moccio said many volunteers go on to become paid firefighters, so their experiences with a volunteer department can have a direct effect on their decision to pursue a firefighting career.

Moccio works for Cornell's Institute for Women and Work.

To read more about the study, visit:

Workforce Management, June 9, 2008, Monday

Workforce Management

June 9, 2008, Monday

Workforce Management

Taking Flight

Arthur Wheaton is quoted in the June 9 issue of Workforce Management dealing with the current struggles with air traffic controllers and the FAA.

Quote from story: "Morale is not high on companies' priority list when they are thinking about how to address the pending talent shortage," says Arthur Wheaton, a workplace and industry education specialist at Cornell University. "The situation at the FAA shows how crucial it is."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 13, 2008

Copyright 2008 The Chronicle of Higher Education

All Rights Reserved

The Chronicle of Higher Education

June 13, 2008 Friday


HEADLINE: Colleges Explore New Ways to Manage Retirements



An English professor leans forward, looking as if she is about to step through a magical door. A music professor in a white bow tie and black tails faces a video camera and an admiring audience as he talks about his career. Some smiling, gray-haired men at a barbecue grasp their sodas and beers.

At retirement parties at hundreds of colleges this spring, faculty members celebrate their expanding freedom and mourn the winding down of their work lives. The post-World War II generation is leaving the work force, and professors are in the ranks. "We have 78 million baby boomers marching into retirement," says Maliz Beams, executive vice president for individual client services at TIAA-CREF, which serves customers at three-quarters of the country's nonprofit colleges. "That's the single largest such event any of us will see in our lifetimes."

Changes at TIAA-CREF hint at the preparations needed to cater to the academic-retirement parade as the first baby boomers turn 62 this year: In the last six months, the company has tripled its number of offices, to 61, and opened a third site where customer-service representatives take telephone calls. In the last year, the company has hired a thousand financial-planning advisers.

Meanwhile at colleges, presidents, provosts, and even faculty senates are taking a fresh look at how to manage professors' retirements. A few institutions that have sought to trim their tenured-faculty ranks for other reasons offer early lessons for those institutions that want to encourage retirements. Many institutions are doing just that, using managerial tools such as buyouts and "phased retirement," or the gradual reduction of work schedules.

Professors present an unusual problem when it comes to retirement: They actually like their jobs, and often do not want to leave them. Despite the stereotype of academe as riddled with low-stakes, high-vitriol conflicts, research paints a different picture. A TIAA-CREF telephone survey last August of 300 full-time faculty members at four-year institutions, for example, found that 53 percent of professors were "very satisfied" with their jobs, compared with 42 percent of all workers.

The average age of retirement in the general population is 62. But in academe, faculty members appear to be retiring at 66, on average, and that age is drifting upward, although retirement data is not always as crisp as demographers might like. The August telephone survey found that about one-third of those responding expected to retire at age 70 or later. The ability of colleges to enforce a mandatory retirement age of 70 ended in 1994, when an academic exemption for a federal age-discrimination law expired.

There is, of course, variation. A professor with a heavy teaching load who feels that he is a slave to his students may be more interested in retiring than someone who spends the majority of the week engaged in research that reflects a lifelong passion.

"At the most selective liberal-arts colleges and research universities, many faculty members would like to stay on as long as they can," says Ronald G. Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute. That is especially true, he says, at private research universities because professors at those institutions "love what they are doing, and their whole identity is tied up with their work."

The Allure of the Buyout

Mr. Ehrenberg thinks the majority of academic retirements will occur naturally. "I don't think colleges are going to be in such a hurry to kick people out," he says. He and others say that young Ph.D.'s should not count on a windfall of jobs as their elders turn emeritus. Cost-conscious colleges, for instance, could shift some jobs off the tenure track. And past predictions of waves of retirements helping out the academic job market have flopped: A major study published in 1989 by William G. Bowen, then president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, predicted that colleges could face severe faculty shortages by the end of the 1990's, largely because of retirements. But the expectations raised for an improving job market in the arts and sciences did not materialize.

Mr. Phelps noticed that faculty members in different departments reacted differently to the idea of retirement. Humanities professors, who might be used to a relatively solitary life of writing and library research, could imagine themselves still pursuing their professional interests in retirement. Scientists whose research required assistants, equipment, and laboratory space might find the thought of retirement more anxiety provoking.

One of the more unusual tools Mr. Phelps used to encourage retirements was a buyout program that paid more to faculty members with lower salaries. Under the university's merit-pay system, the assumption was that faculty members with lower salaries were less productive, and it would be worth more to the university for them to leave. The program is still active, and all eligible faculty members can speak confidentially with an administrator about the terms of possible buyouts without alerting their bosses.

When officials at the University of Rhode Island took a close look at full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members early this year, it was clear that the institution's faculty was graying. Of about 640 professors, just under one-third were age 59 or older, and 105 were 65 or older. A few were rapidly approaching 80.

"We saw that we had a fairly high proportion of senior faculty," says Donald H. DeHayes, the university's new provost. "At a time when students are arriving at our doorstep with a different set of skills related to how they learn and how they access information, we needed to create a little more balance in the age profile."

The institution was also bracing for $13-million in state budget cuts expected to come this year and next. If enough senior faculty members could be enticed to retire, officials concluded, the university could save money even after the payouts.

Professors who are 65 and over have salaries and benefits that total about $140,000 a year, on average, Mr. DeHayes said. A new assistant professor would command a salary of about $60,000 on average, plus benefits worth about $20,000. In mid-March the university offered a one-time early-retirement incentive of $20,000 -- a $13,000 increase over what has been offered since 1997 -- to faculty and staff members who were at least 58 and had worked for 15 years or more.

To sweeten the deal, the university offered the opportunity to keep postretirement health benefits that will disappear for future retirees after June 30. "This was the time for us to put a little bit more on the table for some faculty that were wavering," Mr. DeHayes said.

In the end, 46 faculty members accepted the payout. They will retire at the end of this month. In a typical year, about 20 faculty members retire from the university.

Mr. DeHayes calls the savings "a modest pool of resources" that the university can redeploy. "We've just begun to really figure out what we want to do," says the provost, who has been meeting with deans to help craft a strategic plan that he says will help the university to "stand out and be relevant."

Concern From Professors

Sometimes the driving force to review retirement policies comes from the faculty, not the administration. At the University of Nevada at Reno, a faculty-senate committee recently completed a report that details the impending retirement bubble at the flagship public institution. Thirty-one percent of the university's faculty members are 55 and older, and the number of faculty retirements each year, now 39, has doubled since 2002, says B. Grant Stitt, a criminal-justice professor who is chairman of the committee.

He is also chairman of his department, and half its professors will be 60 or older this year. Mr. Stitt says the university needs to manage the exit of an aging work force, even as the state's higher-education system copes with a 14-percent budget cut beginning next year.

"I think that a lot of states put this on the back burner because on the front burner are budgetary problems," says Mr. Stitt. "You deal with the immediate crisis before you move on to the next."

Among the recommendations in the report, which has not yet been publicly released: Faculty members should try to make their retirement plans known to their departments as early as they possibly can. "If they have any kind of concern for the university," says Mr. Stitt, "they would say 'I'm going to be going in two or three years.'" Then, he says, the retiring faculty member could sit down with the department chair and talk about how to make the transition a smooth one.

But Mr. Stitt, who turns 61 this week, realizes that making such a move isn't as easy as it sounds. "The biggest problem is, because of the economy, people just don't know what they're going to do," he says.

For professors, retirement, especially in its planning stages, can be an anxious time. TIAA-CREF personnel talk to 17,000 people a day, either in person or on the phone, Ms. Beams says, and for participants about to retire, those conversations can be tense. "Their entire life savings has never been larger," she says, "but their ability to recoup from a mistake has never been smaller."

For college leaders trying to steer their institutions through some tricky political shoals as colleges come under attack for high costs, low accountability, and a failure to meet labor-force needs, the wave of retirements may be an opportunity to get a better grip on the wheel.

The situation, says Paul J. Yakoboski, a principal research fellow and retirement scholar with the TIAA-CREF Institute, "creates the opportunity for the universities to rethink their offerings and how to provide them." Robert L. Clark, a professor of business management and economics at North Carolina State University who has studied retirement in academe, says colleges should "be thinking about the faculty of the future and how they can achieve that."

LOAD-DATE: June 11, 2008

Woodbury Bulletin, June 12, 2008, Thursday

Woodbury Bulletin

June 12, 2008, Thursday


Meet the new MnDOT commish

As a MnDOT employee, I followed the April 21 news about Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s appointment of Tom Sorel to head the Department of Transportation with great interest.

I was not familiar with the name. Nevertheless, I was happy about the leadership change in the department.

While reading news articles about the new commissioner, something familiar caught my attention — the fact that Sorel lives in Woodbury.

As it turns out we actually live close to each other and our kids go to the same school at Liberty Ridge.

As a columnist for Woodbury Bulletin, I have a special interest in the local community and its people.

I write about people in Woodbury whom I meet and whose stories I find interesting.

I was interested in getting to know a little more about the real person who is now my big boss and introducing his family to the community.

So, the idea to meet Sorel, his son Matthew and his wife Laurie LaCavera was born once I realized that we have something in common.

On an early Friday evening we met in the Central Park in Woodbury, one month after Sorel took over the commissioner job April 28.

Tom Sorel, 51, was born in Plattsburgh, N.Y., a rural community near the Canadian border.

He has the same name as the Canadian footwear company that makes the Sorel boots, but he is not related.

“I wish I was,” Sorel said.

Loving to have fun and a good laugh, he does not mind being called “Tom Boots” or “Commissioner Boots.”

One of Sorel’s passions is baseball. He loves the sport.

“I had a life-changing experience when I joined a ‘Baseball for Peace’ tour to Nicaragua in 1989,” Sorel recalled. “We played baseball with local teams and distributed baseball equipment wherever we went.”

As a member of an upstate New York men’s baseball team, Sorel came to the Metrodome for a tournament in 1989.

“That was my first exposure to Minnesota and I fell in love with the state,” he said.

Sorel returned to Minnesota in 2005. This time, he came with his wife and their toddler son.

His 30-year career in transportation has taken him on a journey through seven states. He moved more than ten times between his jobs for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) since 1978.

“Having a child made us want to settle down. Minnesota feels like home to us,” Sorel added.

In 2005, Sorel took the job to lead the FHWA Division office in St. Paul.

“We chose Woodbury because this is a growing, dynamic community with lots of activities for kids,” said Laurie LaCavera. “There is a strong sense of community and we feel comfortable here.

“We like our neighborhood in Stonemill Farms. People are nice. We can count on our neighbors if we need help for things like picking up our child from school when we are late.”

Having lived in several states on the east coast, Sorel has good reasons to say that his daily commuting between Woodbury and St. Paul is quite nice.

He is glad he does not have to spend one to two hours on a 10-mile trip any more.

LaCavera, a project manager at Thomson Reuters in Eagan, adds, “My commuting is not bad either. I am interested in carpool, but haven’t found a match yet.”

I applaud her willingness to carpool. As I mentioned in my last column, I recently started carpool. I love it.

I hope more people will make the effort to do so. The more people carpool, the easier to find a partner.

Sorel has a civil engineering background with 30 years of transportation experience.

Sorel is the first engineer to head MnDOT in 22 years. His engineering background was an important fact in governor’s selection for the new leader at MnDOT whose image was shaken after the I-35W bridge collapse last August.

People inside and outside of MnDOT welcomed Sorel’s appointment. It received bipartisan praise, from U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar to State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Murphy and Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL-Woodbury.)

Sorel earned a civil engineering degree from the State University of New York in Buffalo and a Master's of Business Administration from Thomas College in Maine.

He also has a certificate of conflict management from Cornell School of Industrial/ Labor Relations and an associate certificate in project management from George Washington University.

Some of Sorel’s accomplishments include receiving a presidential honor for coordinating the federal transportation response to the I-35W bridge collapse and serving as the USDOT liaison for federal transportation issues during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

He was involved in the effort to build infrastructure, including a light-rail line, for the Games.

It was a big jump for Sorel from running the FHWA Minnesota Division office with 22 employees to lead a 4,400-employee state agency.

“I believe it was somewhat of a calling to make this jump and serve the citizens of Minnesota in a different capacity,” Sorel said.

As a servant-leader, Sorel wants to put his own self-interest aside to serve the greater good of the community.

“Rebuilding public trust and confidence in MnDOT and in the transportation system as a whole is my top priority as the new commissioner.”

Sorel put his conflict management skills to use when he volunteered as an ombudsman for an agency for aging seniors where he trained others and helped resolve disputes between staff and residents.

“Then, you are good at resolving conflict in your marriage,” I commented.

His wife joked, “He is definitely not clueless about conflict in marriage. But he needs to put his knowledge into more practice at home, too.”

LaCavera is also from upstate New York, from the Albany area. Sorel met her while working for FHWA in Albany.

“Well, at least he is ahead of most guys in this aspect,” I had to say.

I asked Sorel how his life has changed since becoming the commissioner.

“Not much so far. Balancing work and life is important to my family and me. My wife and son keep me very grounded,” he replied.

“As a believer in servant leadership, I trust people around me to do good jobs. My job is to serve, inspire and empower others, not to micromanage them.”

Sorel keeps involved in his young son’s life. He serves as a coach for his son's baseball team.

Through their child’s activities, their attendance at Five Oaks Community Church and their interactions with others in their neighborhood, Sorels have made new friends in the community.

He credits his success to the support of his family and many professional mentors through the years.

“Every day I wake up grateful for the people who are in my life and come into my life,” Sorel said. “Building strong relationships and partnerships is how I measure my success.”

I feel confident that Sorel will be a good commissioner for MnDOT. I wish the Sorels the best as they face new challenges and opportunities in their lives.

US States News, June 12, 2008, Thursday

Copyright 2008 HT Media Ltd.

All Rights Reserved

US States News

June 12, 2008 Thursday 1:48 AM EST


BYLINE: US States News



Gov. Jon S. Corzine, D-N.J., issued the following press release:

Governor Jon S. Corzine today named Dr. Clifford Janey as the new Superintendent of Schools in Newark, the state's largest school district. Janey will replace departing Superintendent Dr. Marion Bolden who leaves at the end of June.

"Today is a new beginning for the children of Newark," said Governor Corzine. "We all believe that a world class city needs to have a first rate school system to educate its future leaders. Dr. Janey is a man of the highest integrity who will serve as an example for the entire city - in terms of his commitment to students and his commitment to doing what is right. I know he will work tirelessly every day to strengthen Newark's schools and to ensure that students and their educational achievements are always the top priority.

"I also want to thank Dr. Marion Bolden for her tremendous dedication to the students of Newark and for the path on which she has set the district. She has not only set an academic foundation of progress but also has brought much needed stability to the district. Her guidance in this search and her commitment to serving the students of Newark has been unwavering."

Dr. Janey is the former Superintendent of Schools and Chief State School Officer in the District of Columbia Public Schools encompassing a district that serves 78,000 students in more than 147 schools and 15 charter schools and a budget of $900 million. While there, Dr. Janey was instrumental in propelling change through national reforms, higher learning standards and a rigorous assessment system aligned to the National Assessment for Educational Progress. He also was responsible for revising promotion and graduation standards.

Dr Janey served as the Vice President of Education Scholastic Inc., a $2 billion multimedia educational publishing company in New York City. He also is a former Superintendent of the Rochester (NY) City School District and served in a variety of positions in the Boston Public Schools.

Dr. Janey received an Ed.D in Educational Policy Planning and Administration from Boston University in 1984, a M.Ed in Reading and Elementary Education from Northeastern University in 1973 and a B.A. in Sociology from Northeastern University in 1969. He also has Certificates in Arbitration, Negotiations & Collective Bargaining from the Labor Relations Institute at Cornell University and in Policy Analysis, Labor Relations & Financial Management from Harvard University's Business School.

A native of Boston, Dr Janey is married and the father of five children.

A 16-member search committee was appointed by Governor Corzine in December to identify potential superintendent candidates. Members included Rev. Perry Simmons, Samuel Gonzalez, Al Koeppe, Dana Rone, Willie Thomas, Wilhelmina Holder, Junius Williams, Richard Cammarieri, Carl Sharif, Shanique Speight, Casto Maldonado, Father Edwin Leahy, Gabriella Morris, Rochelle Hendricks and Joseph Fonseca. Chaired by Dr. Clement Price, the search committee spent many hours reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates, and deliberating to ensure that all points of view were considered.

The State Board of Education must now review and approve the nomination.

Contact: Sean Darcy, 609/777-2600; Jim Gardner, 609/777-2600.

LOAD-DATE: June 12, 2008

PBS - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, June 5, 2008, Thursday

PBS - NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

June 5, 2008, Thursday

Debate Looks at Immigration Laws and Citizenship

A recent debate sponsored by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia and moderated by Robert MacNeil examined the current laws dealing with immigration and the possible plans to address the twelve million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, what to do about the 12 million illegal immigrants presently in the United States. The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia sponsored a debate on the topic for its latest big issues debate. Former NewsHour anchor Robert MacNeil moderated.

The participants, in the order you'll hear them speak, are Mark Krikorian, Tamar Jacoby, Vernon Briggs, and Eliseo Medina. Here's an excerpt on enforcement of immigration laws.

MARK KRIKORIAN: Immigration enforcement has three layers: overseas, at the border, and inside the country. And overseas, with regard to issuing visas -- because, remember, from a quarter to a half of the illegal population got visas and then just never left.

And then, at the border -- again, not just the Border Patrol, but the crossing points where people fraudulently try to get through.

And then, most importantly, the part that we've neglected the most, which is interior enforcement, preventing illegal immigrants from being able to get jobs, driver's licenses, et cetera.

ROBERT MACNEIL: How do you do that?

MARK KRIKORIAN: We are, in fact, making some real progress there. In 1986, we made it illegal for the first time to be hiring an illegal alien. But we didn't have a means for employers to really know who was legal and who wasn't.

Now we have technology developing. There's a voluntary online system where a new hire's Social Security number, name, and date of birth are verified.

Doing a better job of that kind of hygiene in the labor market, making sure that people who provide Social Security numbers are really the ones that deserve those numbers, and that others are not allowed to use them and not allowed to be employed, can have an enormous effect in turning the magnet of jobs off and making it as difficult as possible to live here as an illegal alien.

ROBERT MACNEIL: And producing the attrition you think would result?

MARK KRIKORIAN: We're seeing it work now.

TAMAR JACOBY: I believe as strongly as Mark Krikorian that we need effective immigration enforcement. We need immigration enforcement on the border, and we need immigration enforcement in the workplace.

But it has to go with an adequate legal supply of workers. The point is that these workers are good for our economy and we pretend it's -- we need about 1.5 million a year. We only let in a million.

Once we bring the quotas into line with what the market generates, then we should enforce that. And we should enforce it before, but enforcement goes with realistic quotas.

So we get away from a nudge-nudge, wink-wink system, where we have unrealistic quotas that we know we don't really enforce, and we get realistic laws that we stick to like we mean it.

ROBERT MACNEIL: How can you have enforcement through the Social Security system, when the Social Security card is demonstrably so easy to counterfeit?

VERNON BRIGGS: Well, I think, ultimately, we're going to have to get a counterfeit-proof identification card of some sort to be used in -- and hopefully it will be partially the Social Security card, but it's going to have to have biometric identifiers. It's going to be a transition that will require people to have photographs.

I mean, I have in my pocket a card, a Cornell faculty card. And the back of it, it says I am required to carry that card at all times when I'm on the campus of Cornell University. Every student carries that card.

So this idea that somehow I.D. cards are a big attack on civil liberties is a pure myth. But that's what's holding it up right now.

ELISEO MEDINA: It is absolutely ludicrous to say giving everybody a national identification card is going to be the solution. The solution is that we have is that, first, enforcement-only has failed. We have been throwing money at this problem every year without success.

We are now spending somewhere in the vicinity of $8 billion on border enforcement without success. That is going to double once we start messing around with the walls and all of these other things.

I think that, in order for us to succeed, we need to be comprehensive in approach. You need to legalize people. You need to deal with the question of employers and the hiring. You need to also allow for a way for people who come here legally in the future.

Then we can start talking about a system that works. That's why we are here saying the law is not working. We've got to fix it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Miller Center National Discussion and Debate Series airs on PBS. Check your local listings for the time.

Mental Health News, June 2008

Mental Health News

June 2008

Mental Health News

Career Development Initiative; A Creative Approach to Employment Possibilities

By Carol Blessing, LMSW Cornell University and John Allegretti-Freeman, LCSW-R New York State Office of Mental Health

H ow can we all work together and share responsibility to exceed the traditional employment outcomes that are really unacceptable? That is the question that is being asked by staff across the state who are involved in the Career Development Initiative.

In “Achieving the Promise” (July 2003) the President’s New Freedom Commission reports that individuals with psychiatric disabilities are among the least likely to obtain employment opportunities. The national employment rate for these individuals tends to hover around 15% regardless of what services are provided despite the fact that about 70% of these individuals report a desire to work(Achieving the Promise, 2003).. The barriers to employment are huge including financial disincentives, stigma, and perceived limitations.

Joe Marrone (Institute for Community Inclusion, MA), a leading advocate in the field, states that employment is an expectation of everyone in our society, except for those with mental illness. For some reason, a “pass” is given to this population, despite the fact that, when asked, they express a desire to participate in the community and share work responsibilities. Denise Bissonette , an employment services trainer from Canada, states that “any employer will hire any employee as long as the potential to increase revenue exists”. The art is in assisting individuals in creating employment opportunities that match their skills and interests which also meet the needs of employers. Connie Ferrell (Integrated Services, Inc.), a pioneer in Supported Employment, has long stated that there is a unique job match for everyone.

As New York State began looking more closely at evidence-based models of treatment, supported employment as a methodology gained more prominence. Supported Employment was one of the evidence based models that New York chose to highlight (Winds of Change, 2000). Furthermore, the evidence supports that evidence based models are best done in combination (Fallon).

The Career Development Initiative (CDI) is an approach that the New York State Office of Mental Health has undertaken within its 16 adult facilities to address the issue of poor employment outcomes. CDI was born out of a desire to focus on work as a major aspect of recovery. In 2002, OMH partnered with the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ Employment and Disability Institute to design a new approach to assisting individuals achieve their employment goals.

The initial phases of CDI involved agreement on common language and terms as to what constituted integrated employment. Given that there were so many models in the field (sheltered work,enclaves, affirmative business, transitional employment, supported employment), there was little consistency or agreement as to what a real job was.

Agreeing to utilize the national standard definitions allowed the project to more forward on common ground.

Traditional approaches to addressing the “employment problem” have been to train vocational staff in job development and to send them out to develop “job slots”. Although the development of job placement skills along with other technical vocational rehabilitation skills is a part of the supported employment approach, we fail to consider the individual when we look for “job slots” alone. Traditional approaches see Creative Approach on page 32approaches yield traditional results.

In order to achieve the CDI goal, it is important to remember that evidence – based practices are enhanced when used in combination. CDI choose a theme of “Work: It’s Everybody’s Business” in 2006 to support this fact and to encourage everyone’s involvement in the process. In choosing this theme, we were identifying the value and contribution of everyone toward employment goals. The clinician , psychiatric nurse, psychiatrist, family member, and individual receiving services, along with the vocational counselor all have an important role in helping an individual realize his/her goal of employment.

Each facility was asked to identify barriers that they faced in making sure that work was considered a part of everyone’s recovery process. Barriers such as lack of administrative buy-in, clinical skepticism of the role of work might play in the recovery process, and the level of job development and coaching skills of staff who were to provide these services were identified. From this, each facility was challenged to target an area of intervention which would help place them in strategic positions to begin to achieve more positive employment outcomes.

Learning communities were established to bring staff involved in the project together to discuss issues they were facing, to be exposed to new ideas and approaches and to develop a network of support among facilities. This forum allowed the staff to identify the supports that were needed for them to move their goals forward and to learn from one another’s experiences. These communities have met quarterly since the program started.

In order to address staff skill needs, “Foundations to Recovery”, a catalogue of specific training and technical assistance programs designed to meet specific competency objectives offers support to facilities as they address their identified targeted CDI goal areas.. These training opportunities are offered to facilities based on the connection to their specific facility goals. Programs are not offered as training for training sake. CDI representatives are encouraged to think beyond traditional participants and invite staff from other areas of the facility as well as their community partners to attend the quarterly meetings; participate in the annual conference; and/or attend CDI sponsored training sessions.

The team’s next challenge was to “Shake It Up”, across the facility in ways that would expand the existing acceptance of typical approaches used to achieve vocational goals. Facility staff were encouraged to identify alternative methods to helping people using recovery-oriented services think about and move toward employment. This requires looking at employment in different ways. It involved challenging treatment teams to consider the role of employment in recovery and to look beyond traditional job development in assisting individuals secure work.

In response, facilities began to advocate for the role of employment in recovery with their administration as well as with the clinical teams. Employment fairs were held in various locations to increase the visibility of work, newsletters were started, and some vocational service programs changed course to secure more competitive employment opportunities rather than relying solely on traditional non-integrated forms of work. Some facilities began exploring the world of self-employment with individuals desiring to start their own businesses. Small start-up grants were offered to individuals with sound business plans. Employment proposals, rather than traditional resumes, have been popping up to market the unique skills of the individuals we serve.

Currently, the CDI is focused on “Extending the Table”, reaching out within and outside the traditional walls to discuss employment and share approaches with clinical staff as well as our community partners who share this journey with us. At the last annual conference in March, many community partners joined the CDI teams to look more closely at the work we are embarking on and to return to the soul of our work. Returning to the reasons we, as providers, got into this work in the first place is a key to genuinely connecting with the spirit of each individual we work with to get at their passion and how to connect that passion to the world of work. In the end, it is not only about money that can be poured into developing work outcomes, but it is really the relationship to the individual and his/her dream that is essential to achieving employment success.

Standing side-by-side an individual, understanding the personal reasons for work and maintaining a positive perspective are essential in helping get and keep employment. We believe the inclusive approach of the CDI is a positive step toward achieving success.

For more information, you are welcome to contact your local state facility CDI representative in their Rehabilitation Department to see how you can connect to what has become an exciting and dynamic process.

Carol Blessing, LMSW is a member of the faculty of the Employment Disability Institute of Cornell University. John Allegretti- Freeman, LCSW-R is Director of Community and Rehabilitation Services, State Facility Operations at the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Daily & Sunday Review, June 5, 2008, Thursday

The Daily & Sunday Review

June 5, 2008, Thursday

The Daily & Sunday Review

Waverly man to run for county legislature;
Raymond Case of Waverly, N.Y., has announced his candidacy for Tioga County Legislature.

Case has issued a press release that states, “We are experiencing increasingly difficult times. (Case) believes addressing these difficult times requires exceptional leadership and skills. Case says his experience, training, work ethic and innate skills qualify him for the position.”

Case will be challenging incumbent Republican Andrew Quinlan in the Republican Primary. He mentioned that he has been thinking about running for a while and that a family member’s illness kept him out of the race the last time the seat in the fifth legislative district was open. Two things pushed him to run this time, Case mentioned, one being encouragement by former legislators he respected. The other was the “tough times” we are experiencing, he said, especially economically and politically. Case believes he has the “set of skills” to work across party lines and in the structure of government.

In his press release, Case outlined a few of those skills, including his “knowledge,” “leadership” and “managerial skills.”

Two concerns Case has are the economic times and government structure. Case fears, in these economic times, the possibility of “dump down economics.” He explained this as the situation when the New York State government dumps down budget items to the local level, which Case wants to “stop in the first place.” He said this leads to mandates that “cost a lot of money.”

The other concern Case has is with the government’s structure, and he says he will work with others at getting taxes “off taxpayers’ backs.” He said it’s easy for people to say they will cut taxes but “actually doing it is difficult.”

The press release adds that “Case is the retired Health and Human Services commissioner for Tioga County. He currently owns and operates Pennsylvania Avenue Consulting. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the State University of New York at Oswego and a Master’s Degree from Elmira College. During his work tenure he received significant management training from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and SUNY Buffalo. Prior to his employment with Tioga County he was employed by Chemung County for 15 years. Eleven of those years were in either supervisory or administrative capacities. Prior to that, he taught school in Elmira Heights, N.Y. He is currently a member and past president of the Waverly Community Chest Board of Directors. He has served in leadership positions on a variety of professional and non-professional boards over the years.”

©Daily and Sunday Review 2008

Empire State News, June 5, 2008, Thursday

Empire State News

June 5, 2008, Thursday

Empire State News

Australian officials visit prison program that helps inmates with developmental disabilities

STATEN ISLAND - Nine executive leaders from seven Australian non-profit disability group organizations visited Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island today to learn about its “Inmate to Citizen” project, which helps inmates with developmental disabilities prepare for life after their release from prison.

The project focuses on “person-centered planning,” which involves identifying each inmate’s potential strengths and developing an individualized program that builds upon those strengths to prepare the individual for community living, learning and working upon release. Vocational training and the development of personal goals by the inmates themselves are part of the process.

The Australian officials toured Arthur Kill’s “Special Needs Unit,” one of three such units operated by the New York State Department of Correctional Services in which inmates with developmental disabilities are placed, and out of which the Inmate to Citizen project operates. The other SNU’s are located at Sullivan and Wende Correctional Facilities in Sullivan and Erie counties, respectively.

DOCS operates the Inmate to Citizen project in conjunction with The Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations Employment and Disability Institute and the New York State Division of Parole, and under the sponsorship of the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. The project is in its fifth year, and Cornell has received about $950,000 in funding for the project during that period from the DDPC.

Additional funding is being considered for improvements in discharge planning for inmates and collaboration with community organizations, initially in New York City, that could potentially assist or employ ex-offenders.

The Washington Post, June 4, 2008, Wednesday

Copyright 2008 The Washington Post

All Rights Reserved

The Washington Post

June 4, 2008 Wednesday

Met 2 Edition



HEADLINE: Rising Prices, Falling Dollar Stoke Memories of the '70s

BYLINE: Neil Irwin; Washington Post Staff Writer


Prices have been soaring long enough and fast enough, economists say, that the nation is at risk of a self-reinforcing cycle of inflation like that experienced in the 1970s.

It is a risk Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke highlighted in a speech yesterday, saying that the falling value of the dollar can feed into inflation expectations, and that rapid price escalation, if sustained, "might lead the public to expect higher long-term inflation rates, an expectation that ultimately could become self-confirming."

For some businesses that already is the reality. Many companies making long-term investments are assuming that prices will rise at a pace well above that of the past 20 years, as they pencil in larger price increases for the supplies they buy and the prices they charge. Consumers are coming to take rapidly escalating food and energy prices for granted. And labor unions are starting to push harder for across-the-board wage increases, though overall wages are still climbing slowly.

U.S. consumers expect prices to rise 7.7 percent in the coming year, according to the Conference Board, a research company. Investors expect inflation over the coming decade to average 3.4 percent based on bond market data analyzed by the Cleveland Fed. That is well above the Fed's unofficial target of about 2 percent.

When the price of food or gasoline goes up, economists generally think of it as a one-time bump. For the past four years, it hasn't been. The last time there were sharp and sustained increases in those prices, in the 1970s, a wage and price spiral developed that was so severe that the Fed had to engineer the deepest downturn since the Great Depression to end it.

"We're at the edge of the cliff right now," said Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo. "It's still at an embryonic stage, like where we were in 1973 or 1974, not as bad as things were in 1979. But it could move in that direction if the Fed isn't aggressive."

Ordinary businesspeople, especially those in industries in which energy costs figure heavily, are responding as if that is the direction the economy is heading.

"We are assuming that prices will continue to go up, not that they're going to level off anytime soon," said John Benko, president of Manko Delivery Systems, a Tampa company that offers ground freight, logistics and other services. His company has been able to pass on about three-quarters of the higher fuel costs to customers in the form of higher prices, with the rest cutting into his firm's profit.

Ryder System has reduced the maximum speed on its fleet of trucks from 65 to 63 miles per hour, and many of its clients are making fewer shipments of goods with fuller trucks.

But these decisions are a logical response to higher fuel prices -- not necessarily signs that expectations for future inflation are coming unhinged. The best way to get a sense of those long-term expectations is through what executives assume as they make longer-term choices.

If a manufacturer expects energy prices to keep rising, it would be more inclined to pay extra for a more efficient machine, or choose to set up many small warehouses close to customers rather than one massive one that is far away.

That's what's happening, said Thomas L. Jones, a general manager for Ryder. "People are assuming prices have got nowhere to go but up," he said.

"Almost unilaterally our customers are expecting prices to continue rising," said Bob Strle, a vice president of Countermind, a Colorado firm that sells technology to help shipping firms plan their routes more efficiently -- an investment that offers a higher payoff when gasoline prices rise.

The big question is whether those expectations of higher fuel prices feed into a wage and price spiral like that of the 1970s, in which workers demanded -- and received -- double-digit wage increases to keep up with higher prices, which then fueled further inflation.

There are huge differences between now and the 1970s. In the past year, the average weekly wage for private sector non-managerial workers rose only 1.9 percent. A soft U.S. economy could continue to leave workers little leverage with which to demand pay hikes to match higher prices.

Moreover, fewer workers are unionized, fewer of those have automatic cost-of-living adjustments, and unions have less clout with which to negotiate wage increases. Finally, many of the most heavily unionized industries, such as the automakers, are in such dire financial straits that raises of any sort are unlikely.

"There is no evidence that wages have started to spiral up," Janet L. Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, said in a recent speech.

But there are signs that higher prices are changing the dynamic of labor negotiations, at least in certain sectors. For most of the past 20 years, wage negotiations have centered on various pay-for-performance schemes. With higher inflation, unions in a position to do so are now pushing for higher across-the-board raises, said David B. Lipsky, a professor at Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

"The pendulum had swung away from across-the-board wage increases, now we're seeing it swing back the other way," said Lipsky, citing recent contracts among public-sector workers and some in the hotel and casino businesses.

In a four-year contract for 40,000 janitors agreed to at the end of last year, for example, the Service Employees International Union managed to get annual raises of 4 percent, not the 3 percent during the time when inflation was lower (the raises were even higher in more recently organized cities, including Washington).

"The high inflation has adjusted our thinking of what kind of dollars we would ask for at the bargaining table," said Mike Fishman, president of SEIU Local 32BJ, who said the union worked from the assumption that inflation in the years ahead will continue at a similar pace as it has recently.

Bernanke, in his speech yesterday delivered by satellite to a group of central bankers in Barcelona, also made clear that the dropping value of the dollar creates a risk of heightened inflation expectations.

Bernanke, Harvard Class of '75, will have a chance to address whether he sees any similarities between the current situation and those when he was a college senior in a speech today for the university's graduation exercises. Its title is "Economic Challenges: 1975 and Now."

GRAPHIC: IMAGE; By Damian Dovarganes -- Associated Press; Norberto Gonzalez dons a Superman costume as he joins a protest of gas prices yesterday in Los Angeles.

LOAD-DATE: June 4, 2008

Market Wire, June 3, 3008, Tuesday

Copyright 2008 Market Wire, Incorporated

All Rights Reserved

Market Wire

June 3, 2008 Tuesday 5:30 AM GMT

HEADLINE: Experts Connection(TM) Teleseminar Explains to Executives What They Should Expect From Employment Agreements; Employment Lawyer Rob Bernstein Reveals What You Need to Know About Termination, Severance, and More to Protect Yourself on the Job

DATELINE: NOVATO, CA; Jun 03, 2008


Employment agreements are usually the last thing job candidates think about, but they can be the most important part of a job negotiation in the long run. Rob Bernstein, an expert in employment law and a partner with Laner, Muchin, Dombrow, Becker, Levin and Tominberg, will explain how to negotiate employment agreements in the next Experts Connection(TM) ( teleseminar, "The Ins and Outs of Employment Agreements." The teleseminar is scheduled for Wednesday, June 25, from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. ET, (1:00 - 2:00 p.m. PT) and is sponsored by NETSHARE(R) (

Bernstein is an expert in drafting employment agreements and counseling companies on the legalities of hiring. During his presentation, Bernstein will review the specifics behind employment agreements, providing insights into how to negotiate an employment agreement and what you should consider before you accept a new position. Included will be topics about termination, severance, non-disclosure and confidentiality, non-competition and non-solicitation. Bernstein also will explain how employment agreements differ from state to state.

Topics for discussion in the teleseminar include:

-- How to pursue an employment agreement with a new employer.

-- Identifying key issues to consider when negotiating an agreement.

-- Understanding restrictions after they leave the job, including


-- Understanding the substantive differences in state laws regarding

employment agreements.

"Senior executives understand the value of an employment agreement, but the challenge is negotiating with a prospective employer to get what you want," said Kathy Simmons, CEO of NETSHARE and host of the Experts Connection teleseminars. "It's not only important to get an employer to accept an agreement, but to include the right terms that will be to your benefit. Robert's expertise in the ins and outs of employment agreements, and how binding those agreements really are, will provide executive job seekers with information that could be invaluable in their next job negotiation."

The Experts Connection teleseminar series gives executives access to leading career experts. The cost of the seminar is $45, $35 for NETSHARE members, and access is provided via web and telephone. A CD of the teleseminar is also available at

About Robert Bernstein

Robert Bernstein is a partner in the law firm of Laner, Muchin, Dombrow, Becker, Levin and Tominberg in Chicago, where his practice focuses on defending employers in employment litigation, providing counsel on day-to-day labor and employment issues and drafting and negotiating employment and non-competition agreements. Bernstein, who was selected as a 2007 Illinois Super Lawyer, has been practicing law for 12 years and is an active member of the American Bar Association's Labor and Employment Section. He is a frequent speaker/moderator on labor and employment topics for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, the Council on Education in Management and other organizations, and is the Chicago Chapter Chair or the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Bernstein received his BS from the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin Law School.


NETSHARE ( is a confidential, membership based organization dedicated to providing executives across all disciplines and industries with quality $100K plus job lists. NETSHARE also offers networking opportunities and a community of peers for the exchange of strategic information related to job search, professional development and best practices. NETSHARE has been recognized by Fortune and Forbes magazines as the best online destination for executive positions.


LOAD-DATE: June 4, 2008