The prospect of a former Tory minister for disable

first_imgThe prospect of a former Tory minister for disabled people chairing a new Commons select committee on women and equalities has horrified disabled activists.Maria Miller was the first minister for disabled people under the last coalition government, and became a hate figure for the anti-cuts movement during more than two years in the post.Miller was so unpopular that she was not asked to present medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games even though she was minister for disabled people until part-way through the games, and then became secretary of state for culture, media and sport.She presided over plans to replace and cut spending on disability living allowance, announced the closure of the Independent Living Fund, and refused to assess the cumulative impact on disabled people of a raft of welfare reforms and cuts to services.She was repeatedly heckled when she tried to justify the government’s reforms to disabled people, and was accused of “misrepresenting” the views of disabled people’s organisations by repeatedly implying that the coalition’s welfare reforms were backed by the disability movement and other disability organisations.She later resigned as culture secretary over an expenses scandal, after being forced to apologise to the House of Commons for her attitude to an investigation by the parliamentary commissioner for standards. She was criticised when her apology to fellow MPs lasted just 32 seconds.Miller also appears to have a questionable record on LGBT issues. Apart from legislation allowing same sex couples to marry, which she was responsible for as a minister, she has either voted against or was absent for at least four other votes on gay rights issues.Now she will chair the new women and equalities select committee, which will aim to hold the government to account on its performance on gender, age, race, sexual orientation, disability and transgender and gender identity issues.Each party is allocated a certain number of select committees to chair, according to the number of MPs they have.Select committee chairs are elected by a secret ballot of all MPs, but Miller was the only candidate nominated to chair the women and equalities committee and so has already been appointed.Linda Burnip, a member of the steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “As minister for disabled people, Miller was responsible for implementing a wide range of vicious cuts which have been inflicted on disabled people, including announcing the closure of the ILF, the scrapping of DLA and the failure of the government to monitor the vicious impact of their cuts on the lives of disabled people.“To be told that she will now be chair of the new women and equalities Commons select committee, with a brief to ‘hold the government to account on its performance on gender, age, race, sexual orientation, disability and transgender and gender identity issues’, is at the very least offensive and at worst an absolute disaster for any equality agenda.”John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said Miller was “an absolute enemy of equality and has been involved in the systematic denial of the fundamental human rights of sick and disabled people”.He said: “It is like putting the fox in charge of the hen-house.”Pat Onions, founder of Pat’s Petition, said: “Her past responsibilities and actions do not bode well for her new role.“In her job as minister for disabled people, she made so many lives utter hell.“She was helping implement some of the worst reforms that had negative impact on many women and disabled people.“How can Miller hold the government to account on its performance on disability with a track record like hers?”Gary Bourlet, co-development lead for People First England, called for the chairs of select committees to be voted on by the public, and for there to be a select committee solely on disability.He added: “These are the people who are supposed to make sure that disabled people’s voices are heard, but they are not disabled people themselves and some of the candidates to chair these committees have previously been in charge of making lots of cuts to the support that disabled people rely on.”Sir Bert Massie, former chair of the Disability Rights Commission, said Miller’s appointment was “not very surprising” because of her past government posts, and he suggested that the committee would mostly focus on gender issues.He said: “It would have been better if the chair had a clear record of promoting equality, but in fairness this has hardly been a government priority since 2010.”Miller said, in a statement released on her appointment: “Britain has a proud history of challenging inequity and intolerance but, in any society, there will always be a need to shine a light on discrimination in whatever form it takes.“I look forward to working with the members of the committee to scrutinise and help improve the effectiveness of government equality policy.”  There is also concern at another potential appointment, with Labour MP Frank Field set to chair the influential work and pensions select committee.The committee was chaired throughout the last parliament by the disabled MP Dame Anne Begg, but she lost her seat in last month’s SNP landslide in Scotland.Field is facing opposition from fellow Labour MPs Kate Green, the shadow minister for disabled people, and Teresa Pearce, who was a member of the committee in the last parliament, and is a former tax investigations specialist, but it is thought likely that most Conservative MPs will vote for Field.Field, a minister for welfare reform in Tony Blair’s government in 1997-98, was later appointed as a poverty czar in David Cameron’s coalition government and is seen as being on the right wing of the Labour party. He was also chair of the social security select committee from 1993 to 1997.Academics who have researched the stigma attached to claiming benefits in Britain found “a quite exceptional peak in references to fraud” in the media in the late 1990s, when Field was welfare reform minister.The Benefits Stigma in Britain report, published by the charity Turn2us in November 2012, suggested that expectations for a welfare reform white paper published by Field had been “heavily stoked”, but that the document “lacked any radical content”.The report adds: “Tackling benefit fraud, which had featured in Labour’s election manifesto, was the fallback policy and was given huge promotion in order to show that something was actually happening.“Social security ministers can always get coverage for a new crackdown on benefit fraud, and that is what they tend to do when they have no other newsworthy policies to promote.”Sir Bert said that Dame Anne “did a great job in drawing attention to the important issues” on work and pensions in the last parliament.  He added: “I know Frank Field and at least he understands the benefits system, but I’m not sure what approach he will adopt.  “I don’t sense he is anti-disabled people, but he does have a very independent mind.”He pointed out that both Field (1969-79) and Kate Green had led the Child Poverty Action Group, and that Field was “something of a radical in those days”.On his website, Field says he is opposed to Iain Duncan Smith’s universal credit reforms, which bring together six benefits into one single, monthly, means-tested payment, because “means-testing only encourages dependency”.Field has argued that the welfare state should be replaced with four mutual insurance funds, owned and controlled by contributors – rather than the government – for pensions, unemployment pay, social care and the NHS.Rick Burgess, co-founder of New Approach, which campaigns to scrap the “fitness for work” test, said: “Miller and Field – if appointed – indicate loudly the direction of travel of the Westminster party establishments is firmly post-welfare, post-rights and post-democracy.“The implications for disabled people are profound and require a radical reappraisal of how we are going to survive this era.”last_img read more

Meet the woman turning a nonprofit into a developer of affordable housing

first_img Tags: Affordable Housing • development • housing • Mission Economic Development Agency Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0% In her four years working in the real estate arm of the Mission Economic Development Agency, Karoleen Feng has played a key role in turning the program from an idealistic aspiration into a major player in the neighborhood’s housing scene.A year or two ago, Feng said, the nonprofit didn’t much impress the local development community. “I was talking to a realtor and he was kind of not really giving me the time of day, despite whatever I had said about my own experience,” recalled Feng, 40, who studied political economies of industrial societies at UC Berkeley for her BA and then moved elsewhere on campus to receive a Master’s Degree in city and regional planning.Then, a few months ago, the same realtor got in touch, Feng said.center_img “He calls me up and says, ‘Oh, you guys have made yourself into the big time, you guys are able to buy buildings throughout the Mission. So I have a building now for you.’” Before Feng joined its staff, MEDA mostly provided tax preparation, business strategy guidance and education programs. It owned no property, but since then, it has become a mini-mogul. The nonprofit now manages 439 apartments it took over from public housing, owns 122 units in the form of multi-unit apartment buildings acquired through the city’s “Small Sites” program, and is the developer of 534 entirely below-market-rate units in five different buildings, the first of which is expected to break ground in February 2018. It recently paid $6 million to buy a former furniture store on 18th and Mission Streets.Heading up the 13-person real estate department is Feng — a woman of color in real estate. It’s a field that, in the nonprofit sector, is less homogenous than in general, but is still dominated by men. That makes her, inevitably, a representative of both women and people of color — as well as the face of an agency relatively new to the scene.“There is a sense that MEDA, being an upstart and a startup … that we don’t have the full technical qualifications behind our work,” she said. “So I have to represent that I’m on top of my game whenever I’m in a conversation … Unlike, potentially, being a man in the field, I don’t get the privilege of just throwing my weight around. I also have to be more respectful of what other people have to say about our work.” The goal, when MEDA started dabbling in property, was to build or acquire 1,000 units by 2020. If you count the ones it’s expecting to build, they’re ahead of schedule by three years.Feng is quick to credit the entire team with this achievement, but her own tenacity undoubtedly plays a role. It’s perhaps unsurprising that a team that is three years ahead of its own schedule is headed by a person it can be very hard to keep up with.“She is so energized and determined and focused, you have to really match that, or she’s gonna run away with the whole thing,” said Katie Lamont, Director of Housing Development at Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.“You really have to kind of match her energy, [and] commit to focus with your whole being in the conversation,” she added.Karoleen Feng. Photo by Lola M. Chavez.More than half of Feng’s time is spent in meetings, where she moves from one agenda point to the next with dizzying speed, and gives the impression that her thoughts are moving even faster. In a meeting with two of her team members to discuss potential future nonprofit tenants, Feng zeroed in on a whiteboard covered in a flowchart of qualifications, mulling over how to pick a tenant from a sea of groups needing stable space. She twirled a paper clip, long since fidgeted out of useful shape, throwing out scenarios — should groups that can show financial stability really be favored over those that can’t, but which might have the most need? How should the new landlord verify whether an organization is sustainable? What kind of evaluation would strike a balance between arbitrary and subjective? At the core of the conversation seemed to be the thorny question: How will MEDA balance being a landlord that needs responsible tenants with offering a service to those who need it?“I don’t know that there’s going to be the perfect nonprofit. A lot of them are in survival mode,” she said. Even once she’s out the door, the conversation continues: Feng said members of her real-estate team sometimes walk her home. At the door, however, the conversation quickly ends once she’s greeted by her three-year-old daughter.“Literally we’re at the doorway and it’s a transition between me holding my daughter and hugging and kissing her, while we’re still talking about the five remaining issues we have to solve by tomorrow,” she said.Feng began her career at the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation as an intern and worked her way through the ranks to become an associate director. “She’s been doing this a long time, and she understands all aspects of it, particularly the business aspect of it,” Lamont said. “She’s attracted some impressive people, in terms of their raw talent but who don’t have nearly the same experience she has.”Joshua Simon, executive director of the East Bay nonprofit, worked with Feng while she was an assistant project manager there. At the time, she was working on the revitalization of Swan’s Market and finding restaurants to bring local businesses and employers to the grocer. “She made a point of knowing the property owners of surrounding buildings. Those good relationships bear fruit into opportunities,” Simon said. But it’s not just business relationships and housing stock to Feng. Managing housing for a service organization means seeing housing as the foundation, but not a panacea, for helping people reach their potential. “The reality is that solving a person’s housing problem, especially if they have other difficulties that they were originally facing … means that you’re not necessarily making sure that they’re successful, you’re just making sure that they’re successfully housed,” she said. The concept of housing as a bedrock for opportunity came from her own childhood in Singapore, a country where 80 percent of the population lives in public housing.“What motivates me is to, in some ways, recreate my childhood and recreate for other people the same opportunities that I had growing up … which, for me, is the opportunity to not have to worry about my daily need,” she said.There’s a sense of personal connection, and perhaps even responsibility, to the neighborhood, too. While living in the Mission and working in the East Bay, it was easier for Feng to distance herself from the changes sweeping the neighborhood, she said. That became harder when she was faced with a daily flood of stories from families MEDA served in other capacities.“I would be walking by buildings for sale and feel like it was personally my fault that I hadn’t bought that building, or made sure that building would be permanently affordable, when I have the tools to be able to do that,” she said. Now, part of her job is not to just buy buildings and bid on development contracts, but push the world of nonprofit and city-funded development in the right direction. That means shaping the teams working on finding solutions to the housing and displacement crisis so that they reflect the communities they serve. It also means listening when communities say they’re hurting — as the Mission has been doing in conversations about gentrification — and refusing to settle for old ways of doing things.It’s crucial for stakeholders to “recognize that there are new and innovative ways that we can do our work and that we’re all in this together,” she said. “We don’t think we can solve this alone. We think we need everybody to really solve this.”Disclosure: Mission Local is a business tenant at a MEDA-owned building.Related coverage:Nonprofit buys decaying building at 18th and Mission Streets.   December 17, 2017SF’s Mission District’s Depression-era facelift. May 4, 2017 last_img read more

Head Coach Justin Holbrook and his assistant Jamah

first_imgHead Coach Justin Holbrook and his assistant Jamahl Lolesi put them through their paces at our Cowley International College training facility in preparation for the new campaign.Keep an eye on our social media – saints1890 on Twitter and Instagram – over the next few weeks for more exclusive insights as Saints get ready for the 2018 season!The players are wearing our new 2018 Training Range which is available in store and online now. Further lines will be added in the coming weeks.Video Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.last_img read more

Lane closures expected on Odell Williamson Bridge

first_imgBRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — NCDOT will close eastbound and westbound right and left lanes intermittently on the Odell Williamson Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway to Ocean Isle Beach beginning Monday at 9 a.m. and will continue until Friday, February 2 at 4 p.m.The schedule work times are Monday-Friday 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Eastbound and Westbound right and left lanes will be closed intermittently. There will be a flagging operation in place.- Advertisement – The NCDOT Bridge Maintenance Department will be repairing concrete spalls found during routine maintenance and inspection to the bridge that is required by Federal Highways Administration. This work is imperative to the safe travel of motor vehicles passing over the bridge.last_img read more

Junior League of Wilmington holding 65th annual Bargain Sale

first_img To get a sneak peek of all the items, stop by the Sip and Shop on Friday. Tickets are $20 and include admission both Friday and Saturday as well as beer, wine, hors d’oeuvres, raffles and more. Sip and Shop is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. To buy tickets, click here.On Saturday, the Bargain Sale is from 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Admission is free.Proceeds from Bargain Sale are used to further the League’s work with community partners and to support their mission of empowering women as trained volunteers.Related Article: Storm worsens Wilmington’s affordable housing crisisTo learn more about the Junior League of Wilmington or to get involved, click here. 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — If you’re looking for a good deal on clothes, furniture and more, the Junior League of Wilmington is holding its annual Bargain Sale this weekend!This is the 65th year for the Bargain Sale. It’s in the Sears wing of Independence Mall in Wilmington.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Boys Girls Club Wilmington Nourish the Northside

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – The Community Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington strives to provide a safe place for kids to come to whenever school is not in session.Saturday, they held their Nourishing the Northside event, a community give back day.- Advertisement – The club and its partners provided food, music, giveaways and health screenings.CEO Deral Pitts says that the Boys & Girls Club is dedicated to being an active role in the community, offering support however they can.“I just want everybody to know that Community Boys & Girls Club is here for them. We wanna support the community and the kids any way that we can to make them into leaders and have them live a happier and healthier life,” said Pitts.The Boys & Girls Club’s next big project is developing a computer lab in their building for students to use for homework and to do research.last_img read more

Local music and arts festival maximizes sustainability

first_img The proceeds support UNCW’s Plastic Ocean Project, a group dedicated to preserving and protecting the ocean and ecosystems that thrive in it. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — What better way to have fun than by using sustainable resources? Saturday’s “Sustain with Sound Music and Arts Festival” was entirely powered by solar technology.The night of music and arts at Pier 33 in Wilmington focused on environmental education with a host of sustainable efforts. Only compost and recycled items were used.- Advertisement – last_img read more

CANCER FREE Randy Aldridge gets best birthday present EVER

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There was a huge cheer in the WWAY newsroom today when Randy Aldridge called to tell us the news he had just gotten from the doctor.“I am cancer free!” Randy announced to his colleagues.- Advertisement – Randy Aldridge at his first day of chemo treatment on Feb. 7, 2019. (Photo: Randy Aldridge) Randy Aldridge talks preventative care after cancer diagnosis on March 20, 2019. (Photo: WWAY) Randy Aldridge with husband David Britt (Photo: Facebook/Randy Aldridge) Randy Aldridge gives an update on his battle with cancer on March 6, 2019. (Photo: Randy Aldridge) Randy Aldridge at his first day of chemo treatment on Feb. 7, 2019. (Photo: Randy Aldridge) Randy Aldridge (Photo: Duane Walters/WWAY) Randy Aldridge celebrates finding out he is cancer free on July 3, 2019. (Photo: Randy Aldridge) Randy Aldridge shares an exciting update about his battle with cancer on June 19, 2019. (Photo: Randy Aldridge) It is without a doubt the biggest gift Randy could hope for as he celebrates his anniversary this week and his birthday on Independence Day.Last week Randy visited WWAY for the first time since he began his battle against colorectal cancer. In an emotional interview with his “work wife” Amanda Fitzpatrick, Randy said his medical team was waiting for one last test to check a remaining spot that could have been cancer, but it was not!Randy had endured an aggressive treatment of chemotherapy and radiation to beat the tumor that was in his colon, prostate and lymphnodes.Related Article: Doctor hosts event to help women’s healthRandy says he will have to have an annual cancer screening, but that this battle is behind him.He plans to be back to work and on-air later this month! Randy Aldridge on April 16, 2019. (Photo: Facebook/Randy Aldridge) 1 of 11 Randy Aldridge returns to the WWAY studio on June 28, 2019, for the first time since beginning his cancer treatment in February. (Photo: WWAY) Randy Aldridge on May 29, 2019. (Photo: Randy Aldridge) Randy beats cancer!last_img read more

Government digital system will change over the next three years

first_img <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> DOI – Clodagh Farrugia O’NeillDOI – Clodagh Farrugia O’Neill The Government will be changing the public administration digital system over the next there years.A strategic plan was unveiled during at the National Library in Valletta. The Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar were also present.The Prime Minister said that the publication of this strategy will allow for increase transparency and accountability. He added that the government was amongst the first to set a Distributed Ledger Technology to make life easier.Joseph Muscat also mentioned various examples where administrative technology helped for a more efficient, amongst which the Courts, easier process to set up a business, MyHealth, and ID Malta.Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar said that even though technology is the future of the Public service, one has to remember that there are individuals who do not know how to, or do not want to use a computer, and this is why centres have been established around Malta and Gozo. He added that the public administration has almost reached its goal to have its services accessible by everyone everywhere.Once-only principle During the launch the once-only principle which stands at the core of this initiative was also explained. Users will only have to input their details once in the government system. This will decrease the bureaucratic process. The secure collection and storage of data will play an important role with the changes that will be affected.WhatsApp SharePrintlast_img read more

President Vella in London visiting Maltese patients

first_img <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> Luke ZerafaLuke Zerafa President George Vella and his wife Miriam Vella are in London visiting Maltese patients receiving care, a statement from the President’s office reads.During their visit to the UK, which will last four days, the President and his wife will also meet with the families of these patients who are also benefiting from the aid granted through the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation (MCCFF). They will also visit Puttinu Cares, Franciscan and Augustinian Sisters’ apartments used by patients and their families.Vella will also meet with Maltese and foreign surgeons and consultants who are treating Maltese patients in London.WhatsApp SharePrintlast_img read more