CQS needs teeth

first_imgPaul Marsh is quite right, in talking about the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), when he says ‘it is crucial that good firms of whatever size are able to compete on quality and not just on price with substandard firms’. We are a Lexcel-accredited firm with 25 partners and we support the CQS. We pride ourselves in using experienced conveyancers and offering clients a one-to-one relationship; this is what clients value. However, we are being squeezed on price, both by some of the so-called ‘factory’ conveyancers and also by some high street firms. We are in neither camp. We are in what Ed Miliband might call ‘the squeezed middle’. We are happy to deal with anyone. However, we sometimes find it difficult dealing with those who attempt to cut costs by using inexperienced ‘case handlers’ who adopt a tick-box mentality and whose knee-jerk reaction to a hint of a problem is to reach for an indemnity policy. Equally, we have trouble dealing with those who do not resource their conveyancing properly, who never seem to return phone calls and who fail to respond in a timely fashion to correspondence. As always, it is the actions of the few that spoil it for the majority of firms who are doing a great job for their clients. An important element of CQS is how you deal with the other side in a conveyancing transaction. If it is to succeed, CQS needs teeth, and action must be taken against those who pay lip service to its underlying principles. Richard Atkins , property partner, Taylor Walton, St Albanslast_img read more

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Adama Traore Joins Wolves Revolution

first_imgSpanish winger Adama Traore has joined the revolution at newly promoted Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers.The 22-year-old becomes a Wolves player after transferring from Championship outfit Middlesbrough for a fee of around £18m.He has signed a five-year deal to become the club’s fifth signing of the summer after Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio, Jonny Castro Otto, Joao Moutinho and Raul Jimenez.Traore progressed through the Barcelona ranks before making a handful of appearances for the Spanish La Liga champions.He left the club in 2015 for a loan spell with Aston Villa and thereafter joined Middlesbrough on a permanent deal in the summer of 2016.Adama Traore was named the club’s player of the season after scoring five goals and ten assists to lead the Championship side to the playoffs before they were beaten by his former club Villa in their semifinal tie.He has represented the Spanish national team at youth level.Relatedlast_img read more

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Cllr John O’Donnell to face investigation hearing before SIPO

first_imgDonegal Councillor John O’Donnell is to appear before the Standards in Public Office Commission next week for a public hearing on alleged contraventions of the Ethical Framework for Local Government Service. Cllr O’Donnell is one of three Irish Councillors who appeared in an RTE Investigates exposé to be called before SIPO.SIPO announced today that the Letterkenny MD Cllr O’Donnell will face an Investigation Hearing on Tuesday 11st September in Dublin. Cllr John O’Donnell faces allegations of ethical breaches after he was filmed in a meeting with an undercover reporter in the RTÉ Investigates Standards in Public Office programme in December 2015.The documentary showed Cllr O’Donnell telling a reporter posing as a wind farm investor that he wanted to be paid indirectly for lobbying on behalf of the development.Cllr O’Donnell claimed that he had been speaking in his capacity as a businessman and not as a local councillor when the recordings were made.Councillor Hugh McElvaney of Monaghan County Council and Councillor Joe Queenan of Sligo County Council are also facing hearings next week relating to the undercover reports by RTÉ. The hearings will investigate if the politicians breached the ethical framework under the Local Government Act 2001.Cllr John O’Donnell to face investigation hearing before SIPO was last modified: September 6th, 2018 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Cllr John O’DonnellRTE InvestigatesSIPOlast_img read more

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Enterprise Data: Vendors move in lock-step

first_imgIDC announced marketshare figures for major database companies based on data for 2007. Vendors’ slices of the market haven’t budged a whole lot from 2006. IDC reports that the overall Database market grew to $18.6 billion in 2007, 12.1% higher than the $16.6 billion of 2006. The top five vendors are as follows:Oracle with 44.1% market share. $8.2 billion in revenues. 13% growth over 2006 revenues.IBM’s DB2 and Informix have 21.3% market share. $3.9 billion in revenues. 13.3% growth over 2006 revenues.Microsoft with 18.3% market share. $3.4 billion in revenues. 11.2% growth over 2006 revenues.TerradataSybaseOracle seems to have made a little progress in Microsoft’s home turf for databases running in a Windows OS environment. Some of the gain can be attributed to Oracle’s Express database and lower prices. Other new features of Oracle 11g have made the database popular. New features include the Data Vault feature, the ability to assign security to certain elements of a database schema. The restriction applies even to database admins, disallowing access to company sensitive data, like compensation and corporate strategy.SQL Server’s numbers fell a bit, but that was most likely attributable to Microsoft’s announced, but not year available, SQL Server 2008.IBM saw gains in databases running in Linux and UNIX environments. Terradata is expanding with companies needing data warehousing and business intelligence features. Sybase seeks to discriminate itself with a column-based DB offering which claims better performance for certain type of data operations.Overall though, the picture of vendors, especially the top three commercial vendors, has changed very little from the picture we saw in 2006. What the report didn’t investigate and which may be on many minds is what about the Open Source options out there, like MySQL and PostgreSQL and how do they stack up to their commercial counterparts. IDC may need to expand the scope of future reports to include Open Source options.last_img read more

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Reportable Transaction Understatement Penalty Not Unconstitutional Excessive Fine (Thompson, TC)

first_imgA married couple was not entitled to disqualify the entire Tax Court based on their belief that they could not get a fair trial because the president can remove Tax Court judges for cause. Moreover, their argument that the reportable transaction understatement penalty is unconstitutional because it violates the Excessive Fines clause was also rejected.Comment. The couple’s income tax deficiencies arose from their participation in a distressed-asset debt transaction, which was described in Notice 2008-34, 2008-1 CB 645. Since the couple failed to disclose relevant facts relating to the transaction, the IRS imposed a 30-percent penalty under Code Sec. 6662A. The couple conceded that they were not entitled to the bad-debt deduction; however, they contested the penalties imposed under Code Sec. 6662A.The couple’s argument that the Tax Court Judges should recuse themselves from considering their case because Code Sec. 7443(f) is unconstitutional was rejected. Code Sec. 7443(f) authorizes the president to remove Tax Court judges for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office, but for no other cause. While the taxpayers contended that this provision violates basic separation of powers principles, the Tax Court has held that the president’s authority to remove Tax Court judges for cause is constitutional and, therefore, the court need not recuse itself. (S. Battat, 148 TC – No. 2, Dec. 60,829, TAXDAY, 2017/02/03, J.2).Further, the taxpayer’s argument that Code Sec. 6662A violates the Excessive Fines Clause was also rejected. The Excessive Fines Clause limits the government’s power to extract payments, whether in cash or in kind, as punishment for some offense. However, additions to tax are not meant to punish but raise revenue because they deter noncompliance with the tax law. The couple’s argument that Code Sec. 6662A is not purely remedial because it is intended to deter taxpayers from entering into tax avoidance transactions was also rejected. Neither a high rate of taxation nor an obvious deterrent purpose automatically marks a tax penalty as a form of punishment.D.M. Thompson, 148 TC —, No. 3, Dec. 60,830Other References:Code Sec. 6662ACCH Reference – 2017FED ¶2900.43CCH Reference – 2017FED ¶39,655E.45Code Sec. 7441CCH Reference – 2017FED ¶42,054.39Tax Research ConsultantCCH Reference – TRC PENALTY: 3,252.05CCH Reference – TRC LITIG: 6,052last_img read more

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GO-Biz Updates California Competes Credit FAQs

first_imgRevised FAQs for the California Competes Tax Credit include updated maximum ratio periods for applications to move into Phase II of the application process. Other updates also were madeThe Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) provides and updates the FAQs.California Competes Tax CreditThe credit may be taken against personal income and corporation franchise and income taxes.California Competes Tax Credit-Frequently Asked Questions, The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, November 20, 2018Login to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

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There is a moment as heatstroke sets in when the b

first_imgThere is a moment as heatstroke sets in when the body, no longer able to cool itself, stops sweating. Joey Azuela remembers it well.”My body felt hot, like, in a different way,” he says. “It was like a ‘I’m cooking’ hot.”Three summers ago, Azuela, then 14, and his father were hiking a trail in one of Phoenix’s rugged desert preserves. It was not an unusually hot day for Phoenix, but they had gotten a later start than usual. By the time they reached the top, Azuela was weak and nauseous. They had run out of water.”On the way down, it was just like a daze. And I just remember thinking like, ‘Man, I got to get to the car, just get to the car,’ ” Azuela says. “Then, just — black.”Azuela collapsed in the parking lot. By the time the ambulance arrived, the asphalt had singed his arms and legs, causing second-degree burns. His mother, Alicia Andazola, arrived at the emergency room to find her son covered in ice. His body temperature was approaching 108 degrees. Doctors removed Azuela’s blood with a machine to cool it.”His organs started failing,” she says. “We weren’t sure for the first couple of days if he was going to make it.”More than 155 people died from heat-related causes in the Phoenix area last year, a new record in a place where the number of such deaths has been on the rise. Former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton deemed it a public health crisis, and the city has launched an overhaul of how it prepares for and deals with extreme heat.Just as other places prepare for hurricanes, Phoenix aims to create a model program for coping with the temperature spikes and heat waves that scientists say are becoming more common across the country as the climate warms. That effort includes trying to actually lower the temperature of the city.Already, more people die from heat-related causes in the U.S. than from all other extreme weather events. And as with other disasters, the most vulnerable are the elderly, the sick and the poor.”Heat is like a silent storm,” says Mark Hartman, Phoenix’s chief sustainability officer. “Our goal is to actually say, ‘To be heat-ready, here are all the things you need to do.’ “Deadly hot and getting hotter Extreme heat is certainly not new for Phoenix, and many cities are taking steps to cope with higher temperatures. But Phoenix has the distinction of having more than 100 days a year that are above 100 degrees. Headlines of people succumbing to heat — on trails and streets, in cars and homes — are a tragic staple of summer. And the problem is getting worse.Already, the city has six more days above 110 degrees than it did in 1970, although the all-time record of 122 degrees has held since 1990. And, as elsewhere, nights are warming even faster than days. Hartman says nighttime low temperatures in the Phoenix area have gone up an average 9 degrees in recent decades.”We have more of these days that are at, near, or slightly above some of the key thresholds for public health,” says David Hondula, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.Hondula says roughly a third of people who live in the Phoenix metro area experience some kind of adverse health effect in the summer months. Surveys suggest more than a million people are too hot inside their homes. Some with air conditioners say they can’t afford to keep cool when the temperature soars.Hondula attributes about half of the city’s warming to climate change and the other half to the built environment — the miles of asphalt parking lots and wide roads, the expanding sprawl of low buildings, plus the growing number of cars and air conditioners. “All those machines are dumping heat into the environment,” he says, creating what is known as the urban heat island effect.Hondula thinks some of this can be reversed, but it will require a major shift in how the city grows in coming years, especially with summers only forecast to get worse. By 2100, Phoenix summers are expected to resemble the 114-degree averages found in Kuwait, according to modeling by Climate Central.Hondula is working with city officials as they take a twofold approach: figuring out how to keep so many people from dying of heat-related causes and how to bring down the temperature in one of America’s fastest-warming cities. Phoenix hopes to win $5 million for the program as part of a competition by Bloomberg Philanthropies, and officials say it could serve as a model for other places grappling with higher temperatures.”This really is the extreme case,” Hondula says. “If they are successful here, then they can be successful anywhere.”Chronic exposure can kill Communicating about the risks of Phoenix’s heat is challenging, says Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, who tracks heat-related deaths with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. The area’s heat-related deaths peak during July but begin as early as May and last through September.What’s more, while it’s easy to fixate on the very hottest days, Sunenshine says most heat-associated deaths happen on days with no extreme heat warning. “People die in all different temperatures, and it’s not dependent on how high it is,” she says.The day Joey Azuela nearly died from heatstroke, the high was 103, close to the area’s average for August.”People say ‘I’ve lived here and acclimated,’ ” says Sunenshine. “But we see people who’ve lived here for 20 years and who hike all the time die of heat-related illness.”Over the past decade, most heat-related deaths in the county were outdoors, with trails and desert areas being among the most common locations. Two years ago, Phoenix considered closing down hiking trails when temperatures reached a certain threshold, but city leaders dropped the idea after substantial pushback.Now the city is testing text alert systems to more aggressively warn people when it may not be safe to be outside, even if there are no emergency warnings on that day.About 40 percent of heat-related deaths last year occurred indoors. Those victims were generally women, living alone and over the age of 75. “Oftentimes, they won’t have their air conditioning on, or it will be malfunctioning,” says Sunenshine. “Because they are older, their bodies aren’t able to detect differences in temperature.”Phoenix is looking at installing heat alert systems in the homes of elderly residents. The idea is that they could notify first responders and other volunteers, perhaps neighbors, when the temperature inside a home reached a worrying level.Another group at high risk are the homeless.On an early June afternoon, Jowan Thornton is scanning a downtown park as he holds an orange bucket filled with water bottles. “Hey, buddy can I get you some water?” Thornton asks one man who has taken shelter under a tree with his belongings.Thornton works for the Salvation Army, one of dozens of groups that are part of a heat relief network and are trying to better coordinate with the city on days like this, when the temperature is forecast to break 110. “It’s disheartening,” he says, “when you see so much need out there.”For people living on the street, it’s the chronic exposure, day in and day out, that can kill. Thornton sees it firsthand. “Folks who are just really beat down by the sun with no reprieve,” he says.And with nights getting warmer, there is not as much relief after the sun sets. The area has many strategically dispersed cooling stations on street corners and inside buildings, and Thornton tries to direct people to them. But not all are open overnight.He comes across one man who says he pours water on himself before he spends nights at the bottom of a dried-up concrete canal.”You do the imitation swamp cooler,” the man says. “Get clothes wet and hope you catch a good breeze.”Shade as “preventive health”Any newcomer to the Phoenix summer quickly discovers that the best parking spot isn’t the one close to the entrance. It’s the one next to the tree. Creating more shade — a lot of it — is a key part of Phoenix’s plan to not only lower the number of heat related deaths, but to also simply keep people cooler in their daily lives.The city aims to have 25 percent shade cover by 2030, but it’s still far from that goal. So on a recent afternoon, city employee Michael Hammett is working a line of people at a bus stop, peddling another option.”Have you ever used an umbrella for heat?” he asks Deb Neild. A bit puzzled, she says she’s used umbrellas mainly for rain. But she agrees to give it a try.Hammett pops open a black UV-protected umbrella and hands it to her. Neild is surprised when the effect is almost immediate. “Definitely cooler already,” she says. “I can feel it.”When Hammett presses, she says she probably would use it for relief from the heat, and he lets her keep it. Others are less interested. It’s too cumbersome, they say, or they just don’t see the benefit.The umbrella trials are one of many efforts to gauge how people might change their behavior to better protect themselves from heat.The city is also gathering ideas from residents on how to cool their community. A big focus is low-income and largely Hispanic neighborhoods that suffer disproportionately from extreme heat, a problem that has become more pronounced over time. In some cases, researchers at ASU have measured more than a 10 degree difference between neighborhoods less than 2 miles apart.On a recent day, Maggie Messerschmidt of The Nature Conservancy is going door to door in one such area just east of Phoenix. There are few trees, lots of gravel, bare yards.”We want to learn how to better cope with the heat together,” she explains to one woman who lives nearby.That begins with collecting heat stories from locals, she says.”Based on that, we are going to come up with a list of priorities for the neighborhood,” Messerschmidt says.Many here are renters, so they haven’t invested in shade. One man tells Messerschmidt that he plans to buy houses to rent out, and he is not sure planting trees and shrubs would be worth it.”If it costs me an extra $300 more to maintain the homes because of the landscaping we put in, I’m not making a dime,” he says.Messerschmidt floats the idea of a financial incentive to encourage property owners to add cooling landscaping before she moves on.Aimee Williamson of the local nonprofit Trees Matter says the whole mindset around trees needs to change, especially in a place where palm trees often pass as offering shade. “They’re not just something that should be lumped into parks,” says Williamson. “They should be looked at as infrastructure and prioritized financially in that way. It’s kind of a form of preventive health.”On another street, Messerschmidt meets a woman who wants a change at bus stops. “The seats are metal,” she says. “How the heck are we not supposed to burn ourselves on the metal?”Others ask about a fountain, a place for kids to cool down as they walk home from school.ASU researcher Hondula has other ideas. He says roads can be repaved with permeable materials, and roofs can be painted white or made of other reflective surfaces. If done properly, Hondula says these change could even offset some of the consequences of climate change.Later this year, all these suggestions and others will be vetted for a final action plan. It might even include a specific, measurable target by which to lower the local temperature. Phoenix hopes it can lead the way, as cities across the country face summers that are longer and hotter.This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a new multimedia collaboration involving Cronkite News/Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal. Copyright 2018 KJZZ. To see more, visit KJZZ.last_img read more

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