Fundraiser collects money to buy protective vests for K9 officers

Benefit organizer Staci Goveia expected the event to bring in more than $12,000 for Vested Interest in K9s, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that provides bullet and stab protective equipment for four-legged officers and protective dogs.

We vest dogs throughout the United States, Goveia said.

This year has been particularly rough for police dogs across the country, she said. Fourteen K9 officers were killed in the first three months of 2016.

Goveia first wanted to help after seeing a 2014 Facebook post about an Oklahoma K9 that died protecting his human partner. In short order, she helped raise money to buy vests for dogs working with departments in Markham, Lynwood and downstate Metropolis.

By the first vest, Goveia said she caught the attention of Vested Interest President Sandy Marcal and started volunteering as an application reviewer. Vests are custom made for a dog, if the departments application is approved.

Each $1,050 raised covers the cost of a protective vest that lasts for five years. Since 2009, Vested Interest has provided more than 1,900 vests for dogs across the country.

The Mail on Sunday triumphs at money awards as it is crowned Consumer Money Title of the Year

The Mail on Sunday was last week crowned Consumer Money Title of the Year at the Headlinemoney Awards.

The newspaper’s Personal Finance team picked up the gong at a glitzy ceremony on Tuesday night, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane and hosted by actor and comedian Miles Jupp.

Judges agreed the money section, edited by Jeff Prestridge, ‘provides just about everything readers need to help get their financial affairs in order’ and praised work that ‘obviously puts readers at the heart of everything it covers’. 

Help Us Name the Best Money Movie of All Time

We are in a golden age for money movies. One of the lingering effects of the financial crisis and the Great Recession has been huge interest on the part of Hollywood to explore just what the heck happened. There have been enlightening documentaries (Inside Job), fictionalized accounts of what might have gone down on the eve of economic disaster (Margin Call), and dramatized versions of the events and characters that, shockingly, were all too real (The Big Short, The Wolf of Wall Street).

It makes sense that Hollywood is hot on Wall Street stories right now. The recent flurry of finance movies is not unlike what happened after the Vietnam War: The best movies dealing with the subject, like Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter, were made a few years later, when events could be viewed with perspective and filmmakers had a prayer of making sense of the chaos that transpired.

How money talks

I despise the amount of money we spend on all of our campaigns. What a waste of money. Put that money to better use, Ms. Keeler said. She acknowledged that the ads probably work with her, to some extent.

I have a reaction to an ad on TV, whether its patriotic and feel-good or gloom and doom, you cant help it, she said.

A Pew Research Center poll showed that nearly three-quarters of Americans say money and influence from outside interests is the biggest problem with elected officials in Washington. And there is strong public support across party lines to cap contribution limits from individuals, including billionaires and corporations.

The pivotal moment

The story of bags of money

From body bags to bags of money, the horror/thriller continues. First it was 500 million rupees found in the luggage of model, Ayyan Ali, and now it is 750 million rupees found in 12 bags in water tanks and car bumpers of Mushtaq Raisani, Finance Secretary, Balochistan, which has made the grab-the-money-and-fly cliche become a reality. Not to forget 450 billion rupees that Dr Asim Hussain allegedly stowed away over years that are now being contested in the court. The Panama leaks may seem mild compared to the leaking bags of money that are now being discovered by our apologetic investigative agencies under pressure from some quarters to do their job. This lsquo;discovery of money could be business as usual but for two things. It has happened at a time when corruption is the hot topic, and it is happening to people who are in places that are untouchable. But more than the discovery the debate doing rounds is that does it really mean corrupt people are now going to be apprehended? Does it really mean corruption is going to be deterred if not eliminated? Does it really mean that laws and institutions curtailing corruption will become effective?

Corruption has been the major menace in the country for as long as memory recalls. From politicians to media, from businesses to households, there is an indisputable consensus on corruption levels reaching new heights every year. The World Corruption Index places Pakistan in the category of most corrupt countries. According to the head of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) head, Pakistan, every day, loses between 10 to 12 billion rupees due to corruption. Every opposition wins an election on promises of removing corruption. Every government loses an election due to failure in removing corruption. Every military takeover is justified on corrupt-ridden democracy, and every military leader is ousted due to his coalition with the corrupt.

Corruption is the big buzzword in private and public power corridors, but unfortunately that is all what it is: a buzzword. The more we condemn it the more we do it. The prevalence of corruption is so rampant that most people actually believe that it is impossible to tackle it or even reduce it, thus why bother raising your voice over it. That is perhaps the biggest victory of manufacturers of corruption. They have made it a monopoly of the rich and the powerful who override all laws, all protests and all systems to oil the production lines of corruption. From bribes to inflated projects to influential postings, avenues of corruption have become too innovative and diverse to be easily controllable. The price of not being part of the corrupt system is almost unaffordable, and thus even for the simplest, fair and menial task the fee to get it done is part of the standard operating procedure adopted by any service provider in the public sector.

Government offices are the leading perception builders of this speed-money concept. In the latest survey conducted by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), 64 percent people think that government officials are involved in corruption. 82 percent respondents in Balochistan feel that corruption exists in government, and this figure seems quite justified after the almost surreal presence of cash, prize bonds and jewellery from the finance secretarys house. Apparently, Mr Raisani was Balochistans lsquo;Mr 10 percent, and on every development project, especially from local government funds, it was understood that Mr Raisanis share would be delivered through direct home services on his doorstep. Mr Raisani, very stoically, told NAB officials that they were lucky because if they had raided his house a day later the money would have been laundered through hundi (informal value transfer system) in some offshore account.

Sindh has become more famous for corruption in the last decade or so, and the incidences of target killing and bhatta (extortion money) have literally become woven in the political economy of the province. It is therefore not surprising that in the FAFEN survey 72 percent people in Sindh also agree that their government is corrupt. Aside from body bags in Karachi, bags of money were transferred to the lord and leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in Britain regularly till 2012. A raid in his house helped discover 400,000 pounds of cash lying in his bedroom.

Is Punjab a clean province? The FAFEN report actually points out that 68 percent of people believe that government officials are corrupt, and that it leads to a high level of bribe-taking where nearly 12 percent people have actually seen lsquo;money transactions being done. But then where are the bags of money? Well, two reasons why there is no big fish caught with overflowing bags. Firstly, federal government institutions like NAB and FIA are under the same party as Punjab, and thus despite a video of Rana Mashood clearly showing him taking bribe, he is still the minister of education. Secondly, the methodology of payoffs in Punjab is not on cash percentages but project kickbacks that are deposited in offshore accounts. That leaves the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to the FAFEN survey it has fared the best in terms of corruption-control with just one percent of the population having actually observed corrupt behaviour of government officials. One of the reasons might be the empowered Ehtesab Commission that indicted a sitting minister on an allegation of corruption.

This take-the-money-and-run approach has been facilitated by exit strategies of the influential. Names on exit control lists are just names on paper that holds an arm-twisting value. Historically, exits of influential people are accompanied with not just bags of money but money containers. There are many stories reported about nearly all leaders who ruled but honorably or dishonorably exited the country nearly always with goodie bags that were worth billions. Those who are left behind are so inspired by this quick buck strategy that they feel that offshore companies are not the only way but onshore vaults can serve the purpose of unloading bags equally well.

Money brings more money and more money brings more power and influence. However, if money you make is from other peoples money you cannot keep it, own it and use it without breaking laws and bending rules. The partial and selective activation of NAB and anti-corruption drives is not enough. The accountability drives in Sindh and Balochistan are also focused on the lower tiers. The higher tiers have obviously stowed their bags of money not in their home gardens but in overseas black money havens. Unless these institutions are not held accountable by the citizens of a country, democracies become euphemisms for autocracy.

The writer is a columnist and analyst and can be reached at andleeb.abbas1@gmail.com

SPS searching for new ways to conserve energy, save money

Springfield Public Schools is searching for a national company that can develop a customized energy conservation plan for its roughly 60 buildings.

Carol Embree, chief financial and operations officer, said the goal is to find ways to save money and more efficiently use resources.

You can effect change in a major way, she said.

At a recent meeting, Embree told the school board that the district has received proposals from national companies — based in Missouri, Kansas and Texas — that have experience auditing energy usage and recommending changes.

She said the proposals are under review and the administration is expected to recommend the district contract with one of the firms during the Dec. 8 board meeting.

According to the district, the selected firm will develop an energy conservation program designed to help the district reduce its use of major utilities including electricity, gas, water and sewer.

Embree said the firm would work with the district on an ongoing basis. The goal will be to engage employees and others to conserve energy and to help change the habits of those who use the buildings.

This is focused on behavior modification and its not only individuals behavior modification, its system-wide behavior modification, she said.

For example, she said one area the firm might scrutinize is the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems to make sure they are working properly.

Sometimes a system may report to you that it is off when no one is occupying the building but, in fact, when you have somebody go and physically check it out there can be control issues or programming issues where that system is indeed on, she said. And that type of savings can be significant.

Embree said whichever company the district ends up using will be expected to recommend changes using existing resources and not recommend the district spend money to retrofit equipment or install computerized control systems.

She said small changes, like staggering the times for when the heat or air conditioning is turned on across the district, could save money.

If all units start up at one time that creates a spike in energy consumption that can be at a higher price point, whereas if it is a gradual increase in energy, or in the process of those units coming on, that can result in some significant savings, she said.

Embree said while it was too early to know how much the district could save by working with a national firm, a similar agreement in a previous district where she worked generated between $30,000 and $40,000 in savings a month.

A push to spend more money at local stores this holiday season

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams perused the shelves of the market inside Palettis on Highland Drive, picking out some food products to purchase.

All of the items were made here in Utah, and the mayor is encouraging people to shop more at local stores this holiday season.

Were all going to make purchases on the Internet. Were all going to shop at some of the national chains, but try to make a conscious decision to shift 10-percent of your spending to local businesses, McAdams said.

The group Local First Utah said a 2013 study it conducted found that if people shifted 10-percent of their holiday spending to locally owned businesses, an estimated $108 million would stay in the state. If they did it year round, it would be nearly $1.3 billion.

Four times more money stays in Utahs economy when its spent with a locally-owned business, said Kristen Lavelett, the executive director of Local First Utah.

Local businesses are facing competition from big box stores and their Black Friday deals, as well as online retailers. McAdams acknowledged even the national chains hire locally.

Sure theyre going to hire local people and theyre paying — oftentimes — a minimum wage or just above minimum wage, and thats staying local, but the profits are leaving the state and they go up the food chain and leave Utah, he said.

Paletti co-owner Carol Elliott said she faces more competition from online sites, but said she tries to offer what they cant — a human touch.

We have instant gratification, she said. We also know our customers very well. We know their likes and dislikes.

Local First Utah maintains a directory of locally-owned businesses. You can access it here.

Danbury club owner found guilty of wire fraud and money laundering

The Danbury nightclub owner accused of running a Ponzi scheme was convicted Wednesday of wire fraud and money laundering in US District Court in New Haven.

Ian Bick, 20, owner of Tuxedo Junction, was found guilty on six counts of wire fraud and one court of money laundering after three days of jury deliberations.

Bick was charged in January with 11 counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering and one count of making a false statement.