Interannual variation in condition of the mackerel icefish

first_imgMackerel icefish Champsocephalus gunnari are widespread on the South Georgia (54° S, 36° W) shelf. Analysis of condition indicated a strong interannual variation. High condition indices, indicative of good feeding conditions, were present when krill were abundant in the region. Years when krill were scarce and condition index was consequently low, were consistent with years when indices from land-based krill predators also indicated that krill were scarce.last_img

Hunters opened 37 branches during 2017 and increased income by nearly 10%, results reveal

first_imgFranchise sales and lettings group Hunters says it outperformed the market during 2017 and increased its income by 9.8% to £38.9m, up from £35.4m in 2016, despite the “well-documented challenging conditions in the UK”.Today’s results come from its latest trading update to the City and includes details of its aggressive expansion, which included 37 new branch openings last year, taking it to a total of 213 branches.Like its competitors Martin & Co, EweMove and Belvoir, Hunters is hoping the choppy trading conditions within the UK property market at the moment will persuade more independent agents to seek safe anchorage in its branded franchise network.Cost reductions“Market conditions will continue to encourage independent operators to be part of a stronger group that can also offer significant cost reductions, particularly in terms of portal charges for Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket,” its update says.“We are already seeing an improved level of enquiries from high quality independent businesses. Our financial strength will enable us to both expand our network and reward shareholders with an attractive dividend.”In December last year Hunters began listing its properties centrally via, rather than leaving it to individual franchisees.The City would seem to agree with this point of view – unlike many of its PLC counterparts shares in Hunters have been rising steadily in recent weeks, up from £0.45p at the end of January to £0.51p today, helped by its announcement last month that it is partnering with a proptech firm to enable empty rental and sales properties to be rented out via Airbnb.“We are pleased with our performance and the progress we are making in adding high quality businesses to our network,” says Glynis Frew, Hunters’ Chief Executive (pictured, left).“Our organic growth is significantly stronger than our competitors and we are optimistic that this will lay the foundations for further growth.”The latest branch openings within the Hunters network make it larger than competitors Winkworth (101 branches) and Belvoir (165 branches) but some way behind Martin & Co (403 offices).Read more about Hunters.Glynis Frew Martin & Co Hunters Belvoir February 20, 2018Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Home » News » Agencies & People » Hunters opened 37 branches during 2017 and increased income by nearly 10%, results reveal previous nextAgencies & PeopleHunters opened 37 branches during 2017 and increased income by nearly 10%, results revealAggressive expansion plan seems to be working despite “challenging conditions” says latest trading update.Nigel Lewis20th February 20180818 Viewslast_img read more

US UCT 2, Philippine NAVSOG Finish Construction Project

first_img View post tag: News by topic View post tag: asia View post tag: NAVSOG View post tag: Philippine Seabees from Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 and sailors from the Philippine Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony of a joint reconstruction boat ramp at Naval Base Heracleo Alano in Cavite City, Philippines, Nov. 5.The ceremony marked the culmination of a six-month collaboration between the Philippine navy and U.S. Navy to increase interoperability and hone construction and mission-critical skillsets, said U.S. Navy Seabee Chief Equipment Operator (SCW/DSW) James Igoe.Continuing to work together on construction projects such as these will not only keep all our mutual technical skills sharpened but will further enhance our lasting relationship.Igoe, officer-in-charge of an 11-member unit from UCT 2 stationed at Port Hueneme, California, worked with Philippine engineers to reconstruct a ramp, originally built in 2005, to place boats in the water from the NAVSOG compound.The reconstructed ramp will enable NAVSOG to enhance their land-sea based training and operations.Rear Adm. Caesar Taccad, vice commander of the Philippine navy, was the keynote speaker and thanked the U.S. Sailors for their efforts.The boat ramp will be used for training and operational NAVSOG requirements.[mappress mapid=”14401″]Press release, Image: US Navy US UCT 2, Philippine NAVSOG Finish Construction Project View post tag: construction November 11, 2014 Back to overview,Home naval-today US UCT 2, Philippine NAVSOG Finish Construction Project center_img View post tag: finish View post tag: US UCT 2 View post tag: Navy View post tag: project Authorities View post tag: Naval Share this articlelast_img read more

Brick Lane – Monica Ali

first_imgGive me your tired, your poor and your huddled masses…” If ever a place in England could speak these lines as that famous symbol of immigrant opportunity west of the Atlantic does, it would be a stretch of road smack–bang in the middle of London’s East End. For fleeing Huguenots in the 18th century, escaping Jews in the 19th and Bangladeshis in the 20th it was a place of economic and social refuge; that place was Brick Lane. Monica Ali’s debut novel immortalises the idiosyncrasies of the immigrant experience, focusing on a Bangladeshi woman and her trials and tribulations as a daughter, wife and mother. The narrative journeys from rural Bangladesh to Tower Hamlets with Nazneen its protagonist. In London she experiences a fettered lifestyle, firmly under the thumb of her husband’s “advice” despite her own embryonic attempts to forge an independent existence. Far from being illiberal, her husband, Chanu, is neither religiously inclined nor particularly adherent to native custom. He revels in his self-implied superior status, a man “always learning” in comparison to other Bangladeshis who “miss the pull of the land”. Meanwhile, Nazneen listens with serene confidence to her husband’s platitudes on everything and anything, and her children’s difficulty with their culture. Interwoven are glimpses of Hasina’s life through letters she sends to her sister, Nazneen. Later, young Karim enters Nazneen’s life, sparking hidden desires and catalysing Nazneen’s path to self–discovery as a woman. Unfortunately the Booker–Prize– nominated Brick Lanefails to live up to its press blurb. Euphemistically called “epic” and “Dickensian”, some may claim the lack of dramatic momentum is necessary in order to correspond realistically with the minutiae of Nazneen’s slow life, but it still doesn’t adequately justify the plodding pace. Like Dickens, Ali creates cartoonish characters instantly recognisable through what they look like and say; there’s Chanu’s fat self and pseudo–intellectual ruminations, Mrs Islam’s arthritic body and tiresome advice and Islamic groups with fundamentalist leanings, animations that become clichéd and painfully skewed. But Ali must be commended on her poetic and practical vision of the immigrant experience. She gives us haunting aperçus wrought with pathos into death and illuminating observations on the tantalising memory of the motherland, the immigrant’s disillusionment with the host-culture and the question of a multicultural identity. Ali implies in many ways that an immigrant’s old-school thinking has no place in a modern world where free will spells out happiness for the individual, a world where choice not convention must determine human action, after all says a character, “This is England, you can do whatever you like.”ARCHIVE: 0th Week MT2003last_img read more

Much Ado Abouot Nothing

first_imgContinuing the theatrical trend for all things al fresco this term, Creation Theatre Company have returned to Headington Hill Park with the chaotic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Director Charlotte Conquest has played up Shakespeare’s Mediterranean setting with sizzling flamenco dances and vibrant costumes, making it the perfect play for a balmy summer evening. The most striking aspect of this production is its use of space. The stage is a simple red square but the action is projected on different levels by means of a treehouse nestled in a magnificent oak. The expanse of parkland behind the stage proper is used to full effect to create extra comic gems, supposedly taking place off-stage. This heightens the dramatic irony which lies at the core of Shakespeare’s comedy, as we see characters approaching long before those on stage do. The scenes in which Benedick and Beatrice ‘accidentally’ overhear gossip about their tempestuous relationship make particularly good use of the versatile stage set. The pace is relentless with characters entering from unexpected directions, (and occasionally on bicycles) having performed lightning-fast costume changes. The cast have a rollicking good time evoking a real sense of girlish mischief and laddish japing. The mood becomes briefly more sombre at Hero’s ‘funeral’ with an atmospheric torch-lit procession, but the production really excels at the slapstick consequences of mistaken identity. The watch scenes are, as always, a little tedious and silly but they are redeemed by Tom Peters’ wonderful turn as the arthritic Verges with his cumbersome walking frame. Peters makes use of the same physical gags in his main role as Benedick; rubber-faced and dynamic, he plays up to the audience as a swaggering confirmed bachelor. His only match in the strutting stakes is the razortongued Beatrice, played by Elizabeth Hopley. She sensitively tracks the change in Benedick’s sparring partner from cross-dressing livewire into a more emotional, softer character. Dudley Hinton’s lovelorn Claudio is the archetypal callow youth with puppy dog eyes and a boy bandesque white suit. Julien Ball is also consummately smooth as Don Pedro, from his Godfather-inspired entrance complete with mirror shades, trimmed goatee and medallion, to his swift wooing of Hero for his lovestruck friend Claudio. Conquest’s production is full of light comic touches seasoned with splashes of Sicilian colour. As long as the British weather holds out, there is no better way to round off the Oxford term.ARCHIVE: 6th week TT 2004last_img read more

“Subtext of racism” in universities

first_imgA new report has found “a definite underlying subtext of racism” in British universities, according to its author, Dr Kalwant Bhopal, reader in education at the University of Southampton.The paper, due to be published June, found that an overwhelming number of academics considered race to be the biggest barrier to career progression.She said, “Speaking 20 years since the murder of Stephen Lawrence I am surprised at how little progress has been made. There are signs of improvement, but we are progressing in small steps.”She continued: “The statistics show that most ethnic minority academics are concentrated in post-1992 universities. But the problem of racism is widespread; it is not only confined to Russell Group or elite universities”.Of the 65 individuals surveyed, only two had reported that they considered gender a greater barrier than race to career progression, both of whom were from a mixed race background. It is thought that only one university in Britain – Liverpool Hope – has a Chancellor from an ethnic minority group.However, Bhopal said that her research had found that ethnic minority academics not only felt excluded from career progression, but discriminated against through more subtle means. She said that many of those surveyed reported that the body language or lack of eye contact of their colleagues had left them feeling excluded.“One of the individuals I interviewed recounted that some people were surprised to find that she was black after speaking over the phone”, she said. “Such forms of racism are very hard to prove”.A spokesperson for Oxford university told Cherwell, “We do recognize that black and other minority groups are under-represented at most academic levels. However, this is also true across most leading universities, higher education in general and in many other sectors“The overall proportion of Oxford University academic staff declaring themselves as black and minority ethnic is 6.3%, which compares with national figures for academic staff of 6.7%. 7% of the UK labour force identify themselves as BME”.In 2005, an internal Oxford report found serious failings in attracting minority candidates to administrative positions at Oxford, and recommended immediate action.However, Dapo Akande, a lecturer at St Peter’s College of African ethnicity, told Cherwell “I have worked in several universities in the UK and the US and have found each of them to be pleasant environments to work in. I would not say that race or racial discrimination has been a barrier to career progression in my case.”In recent months the university has undertaken a comprehensive audit of ethnic minority staff. The university also said that it reviews its Race Equality Policy on an annual basis, and has sufficient measures in place to ensure the wellbeing of its staff.Ibaad Aleem, a British-Pakistani student studying at Hertford College commented: “I wouldn’t think anyone would find race a deterrent from academia in the modern world”. He added: “Personally I don’t really think about the race of the people around me”.last_img read more

Convenience and Accessibility Top O.C.’s Beach, Boardwalk Priorities

first_imgThe ADA ramp at Waverly Beach is one of several projects underway to prepare for the 2020 summer season. By MADDY VITALE Beaches and Boardwalks are closed to visitors and residents in Ocean City in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.But that does not stop construction projects in Ocean City geared toward accessibility, comfort and convenience for people.In the meantime, city projects such as the one to add seasonal bathrooms at three Boardwalk entrances and more Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant ramps in the few areas that did not have them are nearing completion.“The work is in progress. It should be complete later this spring,” Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said in an email this week.Projects are underway to expand the Boardwalk at Ninth, 10th and 11th streets to make way for pop-up seasonal bathrooms. Added decking at the street ends could eventually accommodate more permanent structures, Bergen said in an earlier interview.However, the temporary bathrooms are like tiny houses and provide the needed convenience when walking with family on long stretches of the Boardwalk.An ADA ramp, like the one on Surf Road, is nearly complete at Waverly Beach off of E. Atlantic Boulevard. The other new ADA ramp is for the Boardwalk at St. Charles Place.Pop-up bathrooms on the Boardwalk like this one at 11th Street will add convenience for vacationers and residents this summer.Mayor Jay Gillian has said throughout the projects that improving accessibility is a key priority for him and his administration.“The city remains committed to improving accessibility whenever possible,” Gillian said in January during one of his weekly messages to the public.In addition to the new temporary bathrooms and more ADA ramps, Gillian announced earlier this year that the extra-long mobility beach mat at 34th Street beach was such a success that the city would like to extend the mats at some of the other beaches. City officials are going to discuss the locations this spring to determine where the new mats would go.The long beach mat at 34th Street is the only one of its kind in Ocean City that extends all the way to the high tide line.While no one knows if it will be weeks or months before the coronavirus-related ban on social gatherings is lifted, the hope is that Ocean City’s 2020 summer season equals a Boardwalk and beaches filled with vacationers.Over the past two years, city officials have made it a priority to improve accessibility and offer conveniences to the Boardwalk and beaches. Workers have installed ADA ramps over bulkheads and at Boardwalk entrances. All Boardwalk entrances are accessible by ramp.For a list of beaches with mobility mats 34th Street beach mat, which extends all the way to the high tide line, will serve as a model for some of the city’s other beaches.last_img read more

HackHarvard makes the majors

first_imgFor 36 hours, 479 undergraduates from around the world gathered to develop groundbreaking products from scratch. The forum was Harvard’s first collegiate hackathon, aptly named HackHarvard.The participants, who were selected from a pool of more than 3,700 applicants, came from not only top universities across the United States (including nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale), but seven countries as well.At the Nov. 13-15 competition, teams vied for prizes that totaled more than $12,500. Designated a Major League Hacking hackathon, HackHarvard sponsors included Microsoft, Facebook, Capital One, Twitter, and Google.For Ajay Nathan ’18, the experience was rewarding because it allowed him to travel “from idea formation to completion in a short amount of time.” Nathan competed on a winning team with three other Harvard undergraduates.Some competitors found it valuable to work with teams from different universities, a unique aspect of the Harvard-based event. HackHarvard also distinguished itself from other hackathons at peer universities by allowing students to compete in multidisciplinary categories, including international development, government, and finance.Cameron Akker ’18, one of the organizers, noted that the diversity of participants reflected the diversity of these categories: Hackers ranged from freshmen still in their first computer science class to seniors with years of experience. By working with people passionate about fields other than pure computer science, hackers were able to apply technology to real-life problems in hospitals, banks, and government.According to Akker, the main takeaway was not only coding, but also creating a community and experiencing “something greater that just makes you hungry for more” in the world of multidisciplinary technology.Thirteen winning teams emerged from the scrum. Nathan’s group created an app, Prophit, that can make recommendations to customers about stores they might like to try based on their banking history, like “Netflix makes recommendations about movies you would like to watch.” The education category winner, Insight, used a virtual-reality viewer to simulate different types of vision, including color blindness. During the two-hour project fair on Nov. 15, the Insight team unintentionally helped someone discover that they were color-blind when they realized that the “normal” and “simulated” views looked the same.The grand prize winner, Myo Explorer, showcased a robot explorer that can be manipulated by a gesture-controlled armband and streamed video footage in order to record its journey.Kevin Leung of Rutgers University, a firefighter and EMT of six years, said that he and his teammates built their app, FireFighter_Monitoring, to combine his passions of technology and first response. The app, which won grand prize runner-up, uses a smart watch to send firefighter vitals to the chief, who can then send an evacuation signal to firefighters in danger.“Firefighters are so focused on getting their task[s] done and rescuing victims that they sometimes do not remember to check their own well-being … [FireFighter_Monitoring helps] officers on the outside know how their crews are doing on the inside,” Leung said. In future implementations, his team hopes to integrate firefighter position tracking, which would enable rescue missions that could potentially save the lives of many first responders.Waverley He ’18 was one of the organizers of HackHarvard.last_img read more

Peanut research

first_imgUniversity of GeorgiaAt its March board meeting, the Georgia Peanut Commission awarded $1 million to peanut researchers in Georgia, including $959,000 to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.The money will provide research for economics, conservation methods, irrigation and water management, peanut breeding for higher yield and improved quality, pests, weed and disease management and allergen-free peanuts. “Peanut growers are pleased to provide this money to support the research and education that has continued to demonstrate a return on our investment,” said Donald Chase, Macon County farmer and GPC research committee chairman.“Georgia Peanut Commission’s support continues to fuel the college’s research for this most important Georgia commodity. And helps us provide the unbiased information Georgia growers need to stay competitive and lead the country in high-quality peanut production,” said J. Scott Angle, UGA CAES dean and director.The money comes from growers, combined with funding from the National Peanut Board. Since 1962, Georgia growers have invested more than $17 million in research with nearly $10 million of that amount coming in the last 12 years. “Past research and technological advancements have been the silver lining that kept us ahead of the curve in maintaining superior quality, a competitive position and increased consumption in the world’s marketplace,” Chase said. “Much technological advancement is on the horizon, and we embrace the future with excitement and confidence.”GPC also presented $101,000 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in Tifton, Ga.last_img read more

Lawmakers work on court funding plans

first_img April 15, 2003 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Lawmakers work on court funding plans Senior EditorAs the Florida Legislature neared the midpoint of its 2003 regular session, justice system officials continued to struggle with a two-fold problem — dealing with likely budget cuts for the 2003-04 budget and with plans for the state taking over more trial court funding next year.Both the House and Senate were looking at reductions to the court budget that would cut 49 positions in the Senate version and 125 in the House fiscal plan. Cuts were also planned for state attorneys and public defenders. An analysis from the Office of the State Courts Administrator said the House version would result in long delays in deciding cases and increased costs for litigants.The shift in trial court funding, however, appeared to be producing fairly compatible plans as House leaders prepared to make changes to earlier proposals. Those early, tentative lower chamber plans had called for massive changes in how courts are administered, but Rep. Holly Benson, R-Pensacola, chair of the House Select Committee on Article V, said legislation would be presented to the committee as this News went to press.This year, the court system got about $292 million from this legislature, and next year, about $19 million of that and 344 employees of the guardian ad litem program will be transferred out of the judiciary. But beyond that, Lisa Goodner, deputy state court administrator, said the Senate would cut court spending about $9.3 million and 49 positions while the House version would cut $10.1 million and 125 positions. The specific position cuts in the House budget make that budget plan particularly difficult.“We are working with them trying to bring down the size of the cuts for the courts, because the size of it now is really damaging,” Goodner said. “We’re also trying to convince them to let us decide the best way to take the cuts that best preserves our core functions.”Cutting the court budget is always difficult because 75 to 80 percent is salaries of judges and their assistants — and the number of judges and their salaries are set by statute. That means, she said, that reductions have to come from other areas of the court budget, which are disproportionately affected.Despite the overall cuts, there are some funds for new projects in the budget. The House has $2.8 million for improvement to small county courthouses, $560,000 for drug court treatment programs in two circuits, plus the lease at for the Second District Court of Appeal at the new Stetson law school in Tampa and repairs for the Second DCA office in Lakeland. The Senate has $175,000 for Supreme Court maintenance, $320,000 to support the statewide court computer network, $100,000 for conflict cases under the Jimmy Ryce Act (on civil commitment for sex offenders), the Stetson-Second DCA lease, credit for counties that set up teleconferencing systems for first court appearances, 9.5 positions for child support hearing officers, and $50,000 for JQC workload issues.Goodner said court officials will ask the House to allow the judicial branch to switch the small county courthouse funds and drug court funds to other programs, but believe the other new money is needed.The House cuts in staff followed the recommendations of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Judiciary, but added three OSCA positions on communications and legislative relations.Those cuts included six central staff attorney positions and three assistant positions at the Supreme Court and 31 central staff attorney positions at the district courts of appeal. At the trial courts, the House would cut 37 judicial administrative positions, 20 juvenile alternative sanction coordinator positions, stop a state match for traffic hearing officers, and eliminate case management for model dependency court pilots. There are also other operating cuts.The OSCA analysis noted the Supreme Court central staff handles more than half of all court filings, including Bar grievances and procedural rules. Similarly, the DCA central staff handles large numbers of petitions and filings. Elimination of those positions would slow down case handling, and raise the costs for litigants. Likewise, the cuts at the trial courts would slow down cases and require judges to spend more time on administration instead of deciding cases.The traffic hearing officer cut would also hurt. OSCA said that Dade County spends $208,625 on 24 hearing officers, and if that programs ends, it would take $1.5 million and seven new county court judges to do that work.Rep. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chair of the House Judicial Appropriations Subcommittee, said despite the cuts, core functions were protected. That included preserving the judicial education trust fund, which pays for judicial training and continuing education, declining to follow the governor’s recommendation to cut the number of judicial assistants for the DCAs in half, provided $23.8 million more in funding for public defenders and state attorneys than recommended by the governor, and increasing spending for DCAs by $3 million over initial budget proposals.“I have tried cases in our trial court system for 17 years and am personally committed to keeping Florida’s co-equal third branch strong and independent,” Negron said in a letter to Bar members. “I believe in Florida’s judicial branch and want to ensure that our citizens have access to a court system we can all be proud of, even in these difficult economic times.”State attorneys and public defenders, while getting a smaller percentage cut, said they would be hurt by proposed House cuts. State attorneys would lose about $10 million statewide and 30.75 positions.“It’s going to impair our ability to do our job to protect Florida citizens,” said Third Circuit State Attorney Jerry Blair, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “With the state attorneys, somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of our budgets are for salaries. When you experience cuts that large, it means fewer people.”He and Second Circuit Public Defender Nancy Daniels, president of the Florida Public Defender Association, said their offices are already strained to the limit after three years with no new employees or significant new funding.“Obviously we cannot provide the same level of service for less money,” Blair said. “It is certainly probable we will have to scale back on prosecutions in some areas.. . . State government is going to take some very real hits this year unless someone bites the bullet and decides to increase revenues, and that doesn’t seem very likely.”One little noticed provision that could impact criminal prosecutions affects the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab, Blair said. Instead of the state continuing the $30 million cost of the lab, it has cut the state part to $14 million and now will require counties and cities using the lab to pay for its services. Smaller governments without their own labs might be hard pressed to pick up that expense, he said.There are actually some new workload positions for public defenders, but overall the budgets have been reduced by the House, which is mandating cuts in administration, Daniels said.“In my small circuit, we have an administrative staff of three, and we would take a $80,000 cut,” she said. “We have a staff of 125 people, so it’s a fairly lean staff to begin with.”And that comes on three years of no increase in staff — a statistic that doesn’t adequately reflect higher workloads. Daniels estimated that because of three strikes, the 10-20-30 law and other tough-on-crime measures, the number of jury trials in the Second Circuit has doubled in the past two years.Public defenders got pay raises for new attorneys last year, which helped recruitment, but other staff didn’t, she said, despite rising caseloads and higher health insurance premiums.“There are eight circuits right now that are receiving county assistance because of state budget shortfalls,” Daniels said. “I would anticipate that would increase this year, and we might have to have some furloughs or work stoppages.”She added that lawmakers are suggesting public defenders could save money by not representing indigents charged with violating municipal or county ordinances. But that could be difficult because defendants are frequently charged with violating a variety of state and local laws, and trying to represent a defendant on only some charges might produce administrative nightmares, Daniels said. Funding ShiftIn the background of the budget battle are concerns about how the state will take over funding next year, when Revision 7 to the constitution, passed by voters in 1998, goes into effect. Much of the worry has been focused on tentative House proposals, which included removing many administrative functions from OSCA. Those early proposals would have shifted those responsibilities to the Justice Administrative Commission, which handles accounting functions for state attorneys and public defenders, or a new agency appointed by the governor.Those concerns prompted public statements from Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead. But Rep. Benson said, even as Anstead was voicing his concerns, she was meeting with court officials to draw up legislation that differed from tentative proposals aired in early meetings.Major points, she said, included in the legislation will be:• OSCA will remain in charge of administration for the court system, including trial courts and including new functions assumed from the counties with the funding shift. The Justice Administrative Commission will continue to perform those functions for state attorneys and public defenders, including increases in state funding associated with Revision 7.• Designing a system to impose and collect fines, fees, and court costs that many times now are not imposed or are left uncollected because of ambiguous statutes or lax collection policies. “We are building a mechanism to make many of them [imposition of costs and fees] automatic and putting in collections processes in all of the counties,” Benson said. “We think if you are found guilty of a crime, you ought to be held liable for that.”• Changing the indigency examination process to determine which criminal defendants qualify for public defenders, with an eye to making sure public defenders are provided only to those who cannot afford their own lawyers. The Florida Public Defender Association has warned, though, that alteration may only delay the assignment of defenders to defendants who would have qualified for them anyway. The association also said the greatest efficiency is reached when defendants have attorneys for their first appearances.• A flexible approach to funding that allows counties and the state to work together to meet local needs. Benson said the state will be picking up substantial new costs associated with courts, public defenders, and state attorneys and “we will pick up many of those other programs [beyond basic court functions] as we have funding in the general appropriations act.” She noted that some counties might want, for example, special mental health or elderly courts. In those instances, Benson added, “We will be funding all those basic state court elements, the counties will be our partners and pick up the additional administrative costs that are additional to that basic structure.”Benson said she’s been in touch with Senate officials and anticipates no difficulty in reaching a final plan to pass this year. She noted, though, some fine-tuning will likely be necessary next year because of the size of the undertaking.The changes appear to address the concerns of committee members expressed at the select committee’s last meeting (see story in the April 1 News ). Some said shifting administrative duties from OSCA might violate constitutional separation of powers mandates.Committee members weren’t the only ones concerned. Supreme Court Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead sent letters to newspapers across the state, and expressed concern in interviews.“I’m scared to death. I have never seen our court system more at risk,” Anstead told the St. Petersburg Times. “As head of this branch I feel obligated to speak out when it’s in danger.”Sixth Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer, chair of the Supreme Court’s Trial Court Budget Commission, sent a nine-page letter to Benson raising several questions.Aside from administrative concerns, Schaeffer said many of the committee’s proposals could affect programs set up to increase the courts’ efficiency, such as drug courts, mediation programs, and projects to help pro se litigants. For example, charging pro se litigants for assistance from court clerks, as proposed by the committee, would lead some pro se parties to do everything themselves. Many would show up in court with incomplete paperwork, wasting both their and the judge’s time, she said.The court system was not the only entity raising questions about the legislative proposals for dealing with Revision 7. Daniels also sent a letter for the Florida Public Defender Association raising several issues. One was a provision in both the House and Senate plans banning public defenders from withdrawing from cases for workload reasons. Daniels said that might be unconstitutional.She noted that the House budget proposed cutting $2 million statewide from public defenders and “is just the most recent example of the instability of public defender funding.”Benson said she thinks most of the concerns have been addressed.“I think both the Senate and the House are very committed to getting this first phase done, and we’ve been communicating, and I think we will pass something that voters and the court system will be proud of,” she said. Lawmakers work on court funding planslast_img read more