Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for February 8th, 2021

For the DIY-er with a large plot of land (and a creek): Making an underground house

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2021 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Vera Ellen was a great dancer

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2021 at 5:15 pm

Posted in Art, Movies & TV, Video

How the Police Bank Millions Through Their Union Contracts

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Andrew Ford, Asbury Park Press, and Agnes Chang, Jeff Kao, and Agnel Philip, ProPublica, report:

One town’s police contract guaranteed a retiring lieutenant $121,000 for unused sick time. Another’s promises officers six months pay with no work required as a parting retirement benefit. In another contract, cops get paid $109 an hour for side gigs like monitoring traffic at construction sites.

Despite attempts to rein in police union contracts in New Jersey, costly provisions remain common, an unprecedented analysis by the Asbury Park Press and ProPublica found. The news outlets identified contract clauses throughout the state that protect officer payouts that cost the public hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2010, state lawmakers passed a law to stop huge retirement payouts for unused sick days, but taxpayers are still funding the largesse. North Bergen approved generous payments to four retiring officers in 2019, including a sergeant who got $75,330.32 for unused sick time. Some retirement payouts can be even higher. In 2017, a chief in Jersey City collected more than half a million dollars.

The debt for unused sick time and vacation time, which is largely dictated by the contracts, totaled at least $492.9 million for municipal police alone in 2019, according to a review of town budget records. The liability is primarily due to officers who were hired before the 2010 law passed.

The Press and ProPublica also found that unions and towns have a loophole that gets around the limit the state Legislature put on the payouts. Unlike in the private sector, where many companies require employees to use or lose their sick and vacation time each year, some union deals allow officers to sell back their unused sick time annually, which could allow new hires to exceed the $15,000 limit the state put on such payouts at retirement. Four officers in Norwood appear to have already exceeded the state limit with annual payouts. Norwood Borough Attorney Kevin Corriston said he believed the town was in compliance, but that he was unfamiliar with the law and would investigate further.

New Jersey State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, did not like hearing that the state law can be subverted.

“We obviously changed the law because we felt what was going on was wrong,” O’Scanlon said. “It’s a disservice to property taxpayers. Pure and simple.”

Reporters downloaded thousands of police union contracts from a state website and used a machine-learning computer analysis to identify provisions related to financial perks and discipline. Then the reporters read and counted provisions in 245 contracts that were in effect as of Jan. 1, 2019.

The contracts were laden with various financial perks. In nearly two dozen towns, they guarantee retiring cops months of pay, dubbed “terminal leave,” while doing no work. In Asbury Park, retirees get a golden badge. Some towns give a “perfect attendance” bonus if officers do not use sick time. In one town it’s a $600 gift card. In another the “attendance incentive” can tally up to $2,500 a year.

High-paying “extra duty” jobs — like sitting in a patrol car monitoring traffic at a road construction site — are also protected by the contracts. One department launched an internal investigation after the Press and ProPublica identified an officer logging nearly 28 straight work hours between his day job and his moonlighting.

New Jersey officers already enjoy the third-highest base salaries in the nation, as well as generous pensions and health care benefits. The costly compensation contributes to the state’s top rank for property taxes.

Beyond the financial benefits, at a time when there’s a national call for police accountability, the contracts include clauses that experts say can impede discipline.

Reporters found contracts in 20 towns that say police officers facing discipline are entitled to know the name of the person who complained about them. Hoboken’s contract says records of police discipline will be expunged and removed from an officer’s personnel files after five years. Contacted by a reporter, officials in several towns, including Hoboken, said  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more. Policing in the US is, if not broken, badly bent.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2021 at 3:38 pm

All the radio stations, on a map: Click to listen

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This worked for me with Safari, but not Firefox or Opera. It’s pretty cool. Use this URL:

Each green dot is a radio station. Click the dot, hear the station. Particularly good if you are not monolingual.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2021 at 3:33 pm

The making of a kimchi pot

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Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2021 at 11:12 am

A perfect shave: So satisfying

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When everything works, a morning shave can light up the day. Today:

Soap: D.R. Harris shaving soap uses a good formula, and so far as I know they have avoided the mistake of outsourcing its production. The lather is first-rate and the format — their shave stick — is well-designed for travel and seems particularly suited to my Monday shave, which tackles a two-day stubble. The fragrance is an English classic: Lavender. Floral fragrances (lavender, rose, honeysuckle, etc.) seem particularly welcome in winter, when by February is becoming wearisome.

Bush: This Rod Neep brush has an excellent silvertip knot and the handle is a well-designed one-off with a coin set in the base: 1984, the year I left Iowa City to live in Santa Cruz. It easily worked up a good lather from the soap the stubble scraped from the stick, and with just a little water added as I worked up the lather on my face, prep was perfect (preceded, of course, by washing the stubble with MR GLO).

Razor + blade: Italian Barber’s Stealth, now sadly discontinued, is an exceptional slant, one of the most comfortable slants I’ve tried, and for all its comfort a stubble ninja, assassinating every whisker with lethal efficiency. It works well with a range of blades, so I’m unsure of the brand it currently carries — but it did the job: my face is utterly smooth with no trace of damage, despite shaving briskly.

Aftershave: To continue the Lavender theme, D.R. Harris’s Old English Lavender Water was the perfect finish to a great shave.

What a wonderful way to start the week.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Shaving

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