Billionaire couple donates $10 million to Head Start programs closed by U.S. government shutdown
by Elisha Fieldstadt
A philanthropic billionaire couple pledged up to $10 million in an effort to fund Head Start programs that could no longer operate due to the ongoing government shutdown, officials announced on Monday.
Laura and John Arnold provided the money needed to reopen the seven Head Start programs in six states that were expecting to receive their federally allotted grants on Oct. 1 but were forced to close when the government closed many of their own offices on Tuesday, said Sally Aman, a Head Start spokeswoman.
Head Start serves “the poorest of the poor in our country from ages 0-5 to get them ready for kindergarten,” Aman said. She added that over 7,000 children have been affected by the closures.
"The Arnolds … have selflessly stepped up for Head Start children to ensure their path toward kindergarten readiness is not interrupted by the inability of government to get the nation's fiscal house in order," said Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director of the National Head Start Association, in a Head Start press release.
Supporters of the Head Start Program rally to call for an end to the partial federal government shut down and fund the comprehensive education, health and nutrition service for low-income children and their families outside the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C.
The Association noted that many low-income parents do not have the luxury of alternative care for their children and when Head Start centers close, they are forced to miss work.
“We believe that it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislature's collective failures,” the Arnolds said in a statement.
A former hedge fund manager, John Arnold, 39, is worth $2.8 billion, according to Forbes. He and his wife started a charity foundation bearing their name in 2008, but Larson said the $10 million that are giving to Head Start is a personal donation.
The couple has three young children of their own, according to their publicist Gary Larson
“The Arnolds were both quite moved after learning about the impact the government shutdown would have on so many Head Start children, so they came forward personally, rather than through their foundation, and offered this assistance as their way of helping,” Larson said.
Aman said many of the programs will be able to reopen their doors on Tuesday, but said the “generous gift” would not support Head Start programs that are still at risk of closing if the shutdown persists through October.
If the shutdown continues more Head Start programs that serve an additional 11,000 children will also start to shutter in the coming weeks, Aman said.
And $10 million is only enough to fund the seven programs that the money was allotted for through the end of the month.
“We sincerely hope that our government gets back to work in short order, as private dollars cannot in the long term replace government commitments," the Arnolds said in the statement.
California drug overdoses rise, but state fares better than many
by Brenda Gazzar
The number of drug-overdose deaths in California — most of which are from prescription medications — increased by 31 percent from 1999 to 2010, according to a new report.
However, the Golden State fared better than many states with the 15th lowest drug-overdose mortality rate in the U.S., with 10.6 per 100,000 people suffering fatal overdoses in 2010, according to “Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic,” which was released by the nonprofit Trust for America's Health. And while most states received a score of 6 or less, California rated an 8 on a scale of 10 for “promising indicators” of strategies to curb prescription drug abuse, the report found.
“We've been working at it, but we can do better,” said Billie Weiss, associate director of the Southern California Injury and Violence Research Prevention Program at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health. “We can be using our pharmacy prescribing database to really keep better track of physicians who are overprescribing ... We have drug shoppers who go to a bunch of physicians and get prescriptions; using that prescribing database would really help identify some of those folks.”
While California has an active prescription-drug monitoring program called CURES for certain controlled substances, it does not require — as 16 other states currently do — mandatory use by its prescribers, the report noted. The state also does not have a law requiring or permitting a pharmacist to mandate identification prior to dispensing a controlled substance.
The state was given points for many indicators, including having a “doctor-shopping law” and a “good Samaritan law.” The first prohibits patients from withholding information about prior prescriptions from their health care providers, while the latter provides some immunity or lessening of a sentence for those seeking to help themselves or others experiencing an overdose.
Nationwide, overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers have quadrupled since 1999 — and now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined.
“Prescription-drug abuse, misuse and overdose is a very real epidemic, and it warrants a strong public-health response,” said Andrea Gielen, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Johns Hopkins.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills last month aiming to curb prescription-drug abuse. The first, SB 670, allows the state medical board to inspect and copy medical records of a deceased patient without a court order or the consent of next of kin.
The second, SB 809, increases practitioners' licensing fees in order to fund an overhaul of the CURES database, which some doctors consider too complex.
April Rovero of San Ramon lost her 21-year-old son Joseph “Joey” John Rovero III in December 2009, when the Arizona State University student died from a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol. The Rowland Heights doctor who prescribed Joey the drugs is now facing second-degree murder charges for that death and those of two other young men.
Rovero, founder of National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, said she was pleased the bills passed but argued they do not go far enough. SB 670, for example, should have made it a requirement that doctors use the CURES database.
A third bill, SB 62, was vetoed by the governor over funding concerns and would have required county coroners to notify the medical board any time they determine a death was caused by a narcotic. Sen. Ted W. Lieu, D-Torrance, who authored the bill, said he'll be checking to see whether coroners would be willing to do this voluntarily.
‘Old School' policing to take back Chester
by Rose Quinn
CHESTER — Police began Friday conducting foot patrols in a violence-plagued area of the city's East End as part of an anti-crime initiative that officials said Monday is already showing positive results.
“We are not going to wait for another tragedy,” city Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr. said at a joint press conference with Mayor John Linder announcing the implementation of “Operation Old School,” a community policing initiative currently focusing on an 18-block area that stretches from 20th Street north to 24th Street, and Madison Street west to the Upland Borough boundary.
By tragedy, Bail was referring to the fatal shooting Thursday of a 23-year-old man in the area of 21st Street.
Since the initiative went into effect 2 p.m. Friday in the area known as “Madi Block,” officers made three weapons and three drug possession arrests, Bail said. In addition, three individuals were charged with disorderly conduct and one individual was picked up on a warrant.
Equally as pleasing to Bail was seeing typically shuttered residents out on their porches, and children outside playing as he patrolled the target area over the weekend.
“The people were just ecstatic to have us up there,” he said.
The initiative, which Bail noted revisits the “Broken Window” theory introduced in 1982 that promoted maintaining and monitoring environments as a deterrent to crime, has a threefold purpose:
A proactive police patrol with a zero-tolerance policy;
Collaboration between police and all city inspectors geared on improving overall quality of life;
Use of a coordinated effort by local, county, state and federal law enforcement entities to take criminals off the street.
While the 11 arrests over the weekend might not seem impressive, Bail noted that the presence of the officers was known, and yet the violators still made their move.
“These criminals are not rocket scientists,” he said. “We are coordinating with our local partners ... to put out a law enforcement presence and take these hard heads off the street.”
Earlier in the day Monday, Bail said city inspectors shut down two food businesses on health and safety violations, and put individuals who have been “stealing electricity since May 2009” on notice of residential eviction. Bail did not know the name of the food establishments offhand.
He did say that the offenders would have an opportunity to come into compliance.
Noting he was born and raised in the area, Bail said, “We are going back to old school community policing ... We are going to take the area back.”
As the crime/safety initiative moves forward, residents can expect traffic safety stops, and the police department will resume its release of a 10 Most Wanted criminal list, Bail said.
While the current focus is limited, Linder assured the goal is to expand the initiative into other troublesome neighborhoods, and to take the city back from the violent offenders one block at a time.
“This is really not old school for many of the residents,” Linder noted. “Some of them have not ever enjoyed the old school community that we know.”
Linder recognizes that the move “may be a little uncomfortable” for residents.
“Until we can give the neighborhoods back to the resident, we are asking the citizens to cooperate with the police and city resources,” Linder said.
The city has separate tip lines for criminal and commercial/residential issues.
For those with crime tips, call 610- 447-8408. For those with commercial/residential tips, call 610-447-7784. Crime tips can also be reported to 911.
Bail noted that even the smallest piece of information might help investigators.
“If you see something, say something,” he said.
Want To Give New London Police A Tip? There's An App For That!
New London Police Department is embracing all kinds of technology, with a way to report crimes on Facebook and text message with a new mobile app.
by Jayne Keedle
A Press Release from New London Police Department
The New London Police Department (NLPD) has introduced a new Tip411 mobile application and social media tool to make it easier and more efficient for anonymous tipsters to report crimes in the community.
Administered through a partnership with CitizenObserver, a web-based community policing solution, NLPD is providing residents with various new ways to report incidents while also ensuring the public's anonymity. To report an anonymous tip, New London citizens can now send a text message, download an application for an Android or iPhone, or send a tip via Facebook by clicking “Submit A Tip” on the NLPD's Facebook: www.facebook.com/NewLondonPolice.
Once the tip is received, a message will automatically be sent to New London police supervisors, who can communicate back to the tipster through CitizenObserver without ever knowing the tipster's identity.
“The City of New London will continue to use the newest technologies to enhance our approach to law enforcement,” said Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. “I believe this new 411-app will aide our ongoing efforts to make New London the safest city in Connecticut.”
To send an anonymous tip to the NLPD, citizens may use one of three methods:
Text the word NLPDTip and the message to 847411 (tip411);
Download the free application through the App Store, which would allow to send the tip without texting;
Click on the “Submit a Tip” button on the NLPD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NewLondonPolice.
"Modern times require modern policing techniques,” said Deputy Chief Peter Reichard, New London Police Department. “Because society has become mobile and people are on the go, they rely on technology for day to day communication; the methods police use to communicate with the public has changed too.”
Unlike CopLogic, the web-based incident reporting tool that was introduced by NLPD last year, Tip411 is completely confidential and anonymous. CopLogic is a way to formally report certain incidents to the police department and an opportunity for citizens to receive their incident report via email. Tip411 and CopLogic, as well as other programs that have been instituted by NLPD over the past four years, are designed to provide police officers and citizens with greater access to information through advanced technology.
Recognizing that police officers cannot be in every place at every moment, as well as having respect for citizens' busy schedules, NLPD continues to move forward with various efforts and looks forward to future releases of other programs being developed.
“Through the Tip411 program police now have real time contact with members of the community that are able to anonymously report crimes from their mobile devices,” added Deputy Chief Reichard. “The ability of Tip411 to create open lines of communication between the public and police has enhanced the capabilities of the New London Police Department."
For more information about Tip411 or other safety programs for the City of New London, please contact the New London Police Department at 860.447.5269