Geoffrey Thomas’s safety efforts praised

first_imgThe Professor of Engineering at the University of Southern California Najmedin Meshkati, PhD, CPE and former Jefferson Science Fellow and Senior Science and Engineering Advisor to the US State Department, has lauded AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas’s “seminal works” saying they have made an “invaluable contribution to the improvement of aviation safety in the world.”As a professor of engineering at the University of Southern California (USC), Dr Meshkati teaches at and was director of the world’s renowned, 60-year old USC Aviation Safety and Security Program during 1992 to 1997.Professor Meshkati teaches and conducts research on Human Factors in Aviation Safety; pilot mental workload assessment and situational awareness; crew resource management; cockpit design and automation; Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT); runway incursion; and loss of control in flight.“Mr. Thomas and his articles have been a major source of information for me and I have always shared them with my students. Furthermore, I consider some of his articles in Air Transport World and Australian Aviation as “seminal” and refer to them in my classes as “must read” for any aviation safety professionals,” said Professor Meshkati.Mr Thomas is Airlines Editor at Australian Aviation and is former Chief Editor of Washington DC-based Air Transport World.Mr Thomas’s safety related articles have won numerous international awards and his most insightful, Back to Basics on the problems of cockpit automation deskilling pilots was published just three days before the tragic loss of the Air France 447.“Geoffrey Thomas [has made] an invaluable contribution to the improvement of aviation safety in the world,” said Professor Meshkati.last_img read more

BGLC to Fast-Track Internet Gaming

first_imgStory Highlights Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the BGLC, Carole Martinez-Johnson, said that the Commission is currently reviewing proposals from licencees, which will be processed as quickly as poosible. The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), has indicated that it intends to fast-track the roll-out of Internet gaming in Jamaica. Executive Director of the BGLC, Vitus Evans, noted that online gaming is a lucrative industry, valued at US$39.9 billion in 2015. The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC), has indicated that it intends to fast-track the roll-out of Internet gaming in Jamaica.Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the BGLC, Carole Martinez-Johnson, said that the Commission is currently reviewing proposals from licencees, which will be processed as quickly as poosible.She was speaking at a JIS Think Tank held at the agency’s head office in Kingston on June 1.Executive Director of the BGLC, Vitus Evans, noted that online gaming is a lucrative industry, valued at US$39.9 billion in 2015.He noted that the figure is forecast to reach US$51.96 billion by 2018.Mr. Evans said interactive and online gaming represent the new frontier of the industry, and will be key topics for discussion at the upcoming Caribbean Gaming Show and Summit in St. James.“Gaming, like other forms of entertainment, is transforming from an activity that consumers enjoy at a physical brick and mortar location to one that is readily available online, with opportunities, for gaming, literally at players’ fingertips 24 hours a day, accessible via smartphones, tablets and laptop PCs,” he pointed out.He said the BGLC will be facilitators and enablers to ensure the orderly development of the industry and the protection of citizens who choose to engage in this form of entertainment.“It is important to understand the industry and the opportunities. This is important as the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act goes through the process of being updated to establish the licensing regime and framework for regulatory supervision of interactive gaming,” Mr. Evans pointed out.The BGLC will be hosting the Caribbean Gaming Show and Summit 2017 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from June 14 to 15. The event will focus on the impact of technology on gaming.Matters to be eaxamined include jurisdictional issues, protection of minors and responsible gaming.Chief Executive Officer of Millennial Sports Canada, Alex Igelman, will speak on the growth of eSports.Attendees are invited to register for the conference at www.bglc.gov.jm.last_img read more

Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch – Redefining Policing

first_img It was around 9 o’clock on a Tuesday morning and traffic was gridlocked at the intersection of West King’s House Road and Constant Spring Road.Seeing the congestion first-hand, police officers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) newly formed Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) quickly sprang into action, to clear the snarl.“I hate seeing traffic jams”, declares Inspector of Police attached to PSTEB’s Traffic Enforcement section, Ronald McLeod, as he waves motorists through the stoplight at the intersection, which was now on red.The cause for the traffic congestion was ongoing road works in the area. In this instance, an attempt was made to use an excavator at the corner of West Kings House Road, which greatly hindered the peak hour traffic flow from Dunrobin Avenue onto Constant Spring Road; and from West King’s House Road onto Constant Spring Road.“They were trying to work while the peak traffic is moving; that could not have happened. So I came over and stopped them,” Inspector McLeod explains after pausing briefly to speak with JIS News.This is just one of the many scenarios that PSTEB officers have been working to address since the new branch commenced operations just over a month ago. More than 60 personnel from the traffic enforcement section, are dispatched daily to deal with such matters.Explaining how directing traffic works under these circumstances, Inspector McLeod, who is one of the persons in charge of the PSTEB officers on the ground, says they first have to identify where the majority of the traffic is coming from and, in some cases, give it a “double pull”, to enable a free flow.“A double pull means that even though the light changes to red, we will still allow [motorists] to go through to get off that segment of the traffic that is heaviest,” he explains.“We are the traffic enforcement section, and our role is to ensure we have a steady flow of traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular. That is why we are here every morning to ensure that, especially during the peak hours, we get traffic moving,” he emphasizes.Inspector McLeod says the motoring public has been “welcoming” of the PSTEB officers’ increased presence. Brightly attired in their neon-coloured vests, and helmets, the lawmen officers can be seen at major signalized intersections throughout the Corporate Area and St. Catherine.“Every day that we are on the road, people toot their horns at us. They wave at us in appreciation of what we are doing. They realize that this is a new initiative and that we are working well and its working for them. People are getting home on time; people are getting to work on time… and they appreciate it a lot”, he says, adding that commuters also express their gratitude via twitter and other social media platforms.The PSTEB officers have also been deployed to areas where major road rehabilitation works are being undertaken to facilitate better traffic management.These include: Constant Spring Road, Mandela Highway, Portia Simpson Miller Square and Hagley Park Road. This has resulted in several traffic changes which the officers have been handling.“PSTEB officers are the persons who you are going to see upfront, because even for the traffic changes, we are very instrumental in those. We are in touch with the various agencies in whatever changes that are going to be made to the roadways, and then we go out and we carry out the functions,” Inspector McLeod says.He points out that the officers of this specialised branch are diligently at work from as early as five o’clock in the morning daily to ensure there is free traffic flow.In fact, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Calvin Allen, who heads the branch, has also been seen directing traffic on roadways such as East Avenue, which has been converted to a one-way thoroughfare.Inspector McLeod says while there were some initial hiccups during the back-to-school period in September, the PSTEB officers, who at that time were out on the roads from as early as 4:00 a.m., have not been encountering many challenges recently, as motorists “are understanding what we are about and we are getting a lot of conformity”.In terms of the operators of public passenger vehicles, some of who display extreme indiscipline on the roads, he says the presence of the PSTEB officers has been keeping them in line.“How the unruly (motorists) work, is that once the police is present, then they deter from their (disruptive) actions; and what we have at Traffic Enforcement, is a lot of presence on the roads. Apart from presence, we do take action when we see them out of line… as a result, they don’t take chances. So we have things under control at the moment,” he confidently states.The Inspector notes that whatever the situation requires, once persons are out of line, “if they are to get a ticket… they will get a ticket… if they are to be arrested… they will be arrested”, according to the nature of the offence.“So people will understand that we are serious and we are here about change; and if we are about change, then we are going to stand by it,” he asserts.Inspector McLeod says, ultimately, conformity from the public is one of the main objectives of PSTEB, noting that the branch’s establishment was necessary, given the “rampant disregard for the usage of the road”.As such, he says that, “so our mandate is really to cover as many intersections and corridors as possible, to ensure that the offenders will desist from doing the things they used to do. We intend to continue this and to make sure that persons understand and once they get used to it, I expect (more) compliance,” he states.Inspector McLeod stresses that the officers “are not here for just face value. We are here to ensure and to protect and to serve. While we are on the road, these things (unruly behaviour) just cannot happen. We won’t allow it”.“We have presence. Every corner you turn in the Half-Way-Tree area, in Waltham Park, down by East Avenue, we have presence there to ensure that the rules of the road are maintained,” he says.Inspector McLeod attributes PSTEB’s early success to the highly motivated officers who were specially handpicked for assignment at the branch.“We are a serious set of officers at the PSTEB and this is no joke initiative. We are very serious people… a special group of people, specially trained, and we are expecting that training to be shown on the roadway, not only with conformity, but even how we speak to people… it will make a difference,” he says.The 700 PSTEB members have been specially trained to engage community members as they carry out their duties to deal with traffic, vending and the general population in public spaces. They underwent training in human rights and situational awareness, among other areas.Inspector McLeod also notes that the officers are led by a “great motivator”, SSP Allen, who encourages them to give of their best when carrying out their duties.“When he speaks to us, he [does so] with assurance and we know that he is there for us. He has our back, as well as the management team of PSTEB… what we have are good leaders,” he says.The PSTEB’s operations, which constitute a merger of the JCF’s motorised patrol and traffic and highway divisions’ activities, are expected to result in improved compliance with the Road Traffic Act, reduced crime in public spaces, and increased public support of the police.The Branch features motorcycle, motor car, bicycle and beat patrols, comprises three divisions – the Public Safety Division, Highway and Safety Patrol Division, and the Traffic Enforcement Division.The unit’s objectives are the overall improvement of public safety through strategic deployment of police assets and personnel; and a reduction in response time to demands for police service, especially in road accidents and domestic disputes.The PSTEB’s initial operations are in the Corporate Area, St. Catherine and major resort towns, but will eventually be expanded islandwide. The unit’s objectives are the overall improvement of public safety through strategic deployment of police assets and personnel; and a reduction in response time to demands for police service, especially in road accidents and domestic disputes. The 700 PSTEB members have been specially trained to engage community members as they carry out their duties to deal with traffic, vending and the general population in public spaces. They underwent training in human rights and situational awareness, among other areas. Story Highlights Seeing the congestion first-hand, police officers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) newly formed Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) quickly sprang into action, to clear the snarl.last_img read more

Michael Bolton To Perform At Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation Gala

first_imgThe Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation has announced the Foundation will celebrate its tenth anniversary at its annual gala on Thursday, November 8 in New York City.All proceeds will benefit the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation and its goal of maintaining and expanding its comprehensive, in-school program, Margaret’s Place.Talk show host Katie Couric will serve as Master of Ceremonies of the evening and Grammy Award-winning singer Michael Bolton will be the musical guest. The evening will honor Bob Costas, legendary broadcaster and long-time supporter of the Safe At Home Foundation.Celebrities slated to attend the annual gala include baseball legends Yogi Berra, Bob Gibson, Don Mattingly, Willie Randolph and Bernie Williams, broadcasters John Sterling, Lesley Visser, Tim McCarver, NHL’s Lou Lamoriello and Ken Daneyko, and actors Stanley Tucci and Billy Crystal, among others.At the event, the Safe At Home Foundation will introduce its inaugural Hall of Fame, an esteemed network of enduring and significant partners from the last decade. Inductees include BGC Partners Executive Managing Director, North America and Global Head of FX Products Daniel LaVecchia, Find Your FaceMate Founder Christina Bloom, Kate and Bob Devlin, Goodman Media International President and CEO Tom Goodman, CohnReznick LLP Co-CEO Thomas Marino, Flemington Car and Truck Country Chairman Steve Kalafer, Pfizer CFO Frank D’Amelio, Samsung Electronics America President Timothy Baxter, The Starr Foundation Director Howard Smith, TBWA\Chiat\Day and Verizon VP Of Corporate Communications Torod Neptune.In May 2002, the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation was established in response to the impact that domestic violence had on Joe Torre and his family. Its mission is to educate to end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives. The Foundation’s programming initiative, Margaret’s Place, named in honor of Joe’s mother, provides a “safe-room” in schools where students can speak to a master’s level counselor about the traumas occurring in their lives. Margaret’s Place offers students the opportunity to explore issues of violence in a stable, non-threatening environment, while helping them to understand that they are not alone or to blame. There are currently twelve Margaret’s Place sites in both the New York City metropolitan area and Los Angeles.“When Ali and I founded Safe At Home, we decided to focus on education as a way to end the cycle of domestic violence. If children understand that the way to treat people is the way that they, themselves, want to be treated – that violence, control and verbal abuse is wrong – we can change things,” said Torre. “In the past ten years, we have seen positive results. I hope that others will feel as motivated as we do to continue to make sure that every child feels safe at home.”The tenth anniversary gala is a chance to get involved and to support the tireless efforts of the Foundation to keep children safe. Tables start at $25,000, and limited individual tickets cost $2,500. Furthermore, a unique keepsake showcasing friends and accomplishments over time, the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Yearbook provides many special advertising opportunities for corporate partners in celebration of this milestone year.For more information about the Foundation and its tenth anniversary gala, please visit www.joetorre.org.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

Updated Star Magazine Discontinues SlimFast Ads After BBB Challenge

first_img FTC guidelines on native advertising — which NAD references in complaints against both AMI and SlimFast — require that all forms of advertising, including native, be presented in a way that makes it clear to readers that the source of the content is an advertiser, and not the publication itself. Most importantly, no ads should appear similar in format to editorial content, and native ads should be clearly and conspiculously labeled “advertisement,” “sponsored,” or any of a number of other acceptable terms.  Online, however, a number of dubious articles, purportedly written by editorial staffers but almost certainly part of a paid SlimFast campaign, proliferate throughout AMI’s portfolio of websites, including StarMagazine.com, OKMagazine.com, and MensFitness.com. The absence of proper labeling on these stories is particularly notable given the presence of other articles on the same sites that clearly lie more in the realm of compliance, like this one for OK!, a series of workout tips sprinkled with product recommendations and labeled “promoted content.” We are very concerned about the defamatory headline and implication in your article, that falsely states AMI “pulled” SlimFast ads after a challenge from the Better Business Bureau. AMI did no such thing, and the press release by the NAD does not state otherwise. Rather, as both the press release and AMI’s statement make clear, AMI agreed to “discontinue” the advertising campaign in question. In fact, AMI received the NAD inquiry after the SlimFast advertising campaign at issue had concluded. Thus, while disagreeing with NAD’s position (as AMI’s statement in the press release makes clear), AMI saw no purpose in challenging NAD’s position because the ad campaign had been concluded. Referencing, specifically, the September 26, 2016 issue of Star, a December 21 decision by NAD reads, “The cover page referred readers [to pg. 58] of the magazine for an article titled, ‘Snack Your Way to Slim.’ … This cover story and article appeared to be editorial content but were in fact advertisements for SlimFast.” Additionally, “Sponsored Content” labels have since been added to the online posts referenced above. ► Further reading: A follow-up Q&A with NAD assistant director Laura Brett. Update: In response to this story, AMI provided the following statement. In response to a complaint filed by the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Divsion (NAD), AMI announced that it will no longer run SlimFast advertisements in Star using a format considered by NAD to be insufficiently differentiated from editorial content, misleading readers. NAD and the Better Business Bureau may have done AMI and ​Slim-Fast a small favor by allowing them to be proactive in discontinuing the ads; the FTC — which has come after everyone from Lord & Taylor to Instagram influencers in enforcement of its native ad policy in recent months — has the authority to levy fines of as much as $16,000 for each individual violation. It’s the first time NAD, which typically reviews claims made in advertising, has held a publisher responsible for the way native advertising is presented, according to a spokeswoman. This story was updated on Friday, January 13 at 12:50 pm. In addition to Star, American Media, Inc. publishes OK!, Men’s Fitness, and The National Enquirer, among others. The current January 16 issue of Star contains a two-page advertorial-style spread promoting various SlimFast products with a small “Advertising” label in the top-right corner.center_img Click to enlarge. AMI did not, however, “pull” any ads for SlimFast. The suggestion that it did damages AMI’s reputation not only with SlimFast, but with all of its advertisers because it falsely suggests that AMI believed it did something wrong or unlawful, which it does not. Cameron Stracher American Media, Inc. has agreed to discontinue certain advertisements that ran in weekly celebrity magazine Star amid claims that they don’t live up to industry transparency standards. The Sept. 16, 2016 cover of Star. “While the advertising itself was for SlimFast, the magazine was promoting the product on behalf of SlimFast when it published what appeared to be editorial content, but was, in fact, advertising,” the NAD spokeswoman explains to Folio:. “Any third-party that ‘persuad[es] the audience of the value or usefulness of a . . . product’ engages in ‘national advertising,’ as we define it, and is considered to be an advertiser for that product.” General Counsel — Media A deliberate misrepresentation of the source of the material, according to the FTC, is likely to affect consumers’ choices regarding the product advertised. In other words, readers are more likely to trust claims made in a publication’s articles than in its advertisements. Click to enlarge. In response, an official statement from AMI reads, “While American Media, Inc. respectfully disagrees with some of the concerns expressed by NAD, it appreciates NAD’s efforts and agrees to discontinue the challenged practice.” A second article, promoting SlimFast’s high-protein meal-replacement shakes, similarly resembled editorial content despite actually being a paid advertisement, according to NAD. Though presented as unbiased copy, the articles in question included claims directly from SlimFast marketing, like “clinically proven to lose weight and keep it off,” and “the superfast slim-down secret.”last_img read more

No change in the air Trai rules out floor price for telecom

first_imgA customer selects his number of Reliance Jio Infocomm 4G mobile services in Mumbai on September 6, 2016.INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Saturday ruled out any immediate imposition of a minimum floor price for voice and data services, saying that the industry has reached a consensus that it is “not a workable idea”, according to a PTI report.The decision came after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman R S Sharma along with senior regulatory officials met representatives of all telecom companies, and there was a consensus against any such move.During the meeting, Idea Cellular is learnt to have batted for fixation of a minimum floor price through a detailed presentation, while newcomer Reliance Jio opposed the concept terming it regressive and anti-competitive, the PTI report added.All operators – large and small – were present at the meeting on Saturday. Sharma, however, declined to comment on the specifics of the meeting.”Some operators, last month, had raised the issue of fixing floor price for telecom services. We had a detailed discussion today and there is a consensus that, for now, we do not need to pursue the idea of floor price,” Sharma told reporters after the meeting, the PTI report said.Accordingly, there will no further discussion or consultation on the issue, Sharma added. “The consensus is that fixation of floor price for telecom services is not a workable idea,” he added.However, during the meeting the incumbent operators are learnt to have pressed their demand to have tariffs compliant with interconnect usage charges (IUC), so that nobody could do predatory pricing, the Business Standard said on Saturday.If a minimum floor price had been set, it could have meant an end to freebies in the market, as operators would have to keep in mind the minimum threshold while fixing tariffs for voice and data.The tariffs are currently under forbearance — operators virtually have a free hand in fixing the rates and report plans to TRAI in 7 days of launch – and hence, a floor price setting would have also implied a shift from that regime.”The conclusion was that prices which are under forbearance should continue under forbearance as of now,” Sharma added.Reliance Jio’s entry in September 2016, with its free services and low tariffs, added to the stress of the telecom operators. The debt in the telecom industry is estimated at Rs 4.5 lakh crore, and companies are facing profit erosion.Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio, which stormed into the telecom market last year, wooed customers with promotional free voice and data services in the first six months of its commercial launch.Jio still offers aggressive data plans and has promised that voice calls will forever be free on its network. In fact, Jio’s promotional freebies have been blamed by incumbent operators for the financial woes of the sector.Some telcos had raised the issue of operators offering below-cost tariffs to consumers, arguing it could hurt the financials of the industry. The incumbents, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, have maintained that Reliance Jio is offering “predatory pricing” by offering free calls for months.last_img read more

HC summons Basic Bank scam investigation officers

first_imgBASIC BankThe High Court on Wednesday summoned all the investigation officers (IO) of 56 graft cases filed over the BASIC Bank loan scam to appear before it on Wednesday next, reports UNB.The HC bench of justice M Enayetur Rahim and justice Shahidul Karim asked the IOs, including Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director Syed Iqbal Hossain, to appear before it to explain their position over why they could not finish investigation on scheduled time.The court also asked them to appear along with all documents of the cases, said ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam.He said as per the law, an investigation officer can take a maximum of 180 days to finish his task but the investigation of the cases could not be finished even after two and half years.The ACC filed 56 cases with three police stations in the capital accusing more than 100 individuals, including 26 bank officials, in September 2015 while the commission filed another five cases last year.On 14 July, 2014, the central bank sent a report to the ACC about the detail of embezzlement and found the bank’s former chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu’s illegal influence in all the activities of the bank.According to an inquiry of Bangladesh Bank, about Tk 4.5 billion was swindled out of Basic Bank during the six years Bachhu served as its chairman.He resigned on 4 July 2014, after the finance ministry had sent a letter to the Bangladesh Bank to dissolve the then existing committee of the bank on 29 May, 2014.last_img read more

5 hot preferences for Xi and Trumps first meeting

first_imgUS President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have been at odds over a range of issues since the billionaire businessman took office in November.As the two leaders prepare to meet face-to-face for the first time at Trump’s luxury resort in Florida this week, these are the topics likely to top the agenda.- North Korea -Even before North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on Wednesday, Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme was always going to dominate the Trump-Xi summit.The North is economically reliant on its sole ally Beijing, and Washington has long pushed China to use its leverage to punish the hermit state.While China has shown growing impatience with its neighbour’s bad behaviour, Beijing is reluctant to push the country too far for fear that the regime might collapse, unleashing a flood of refugees across the border.Late last month, in a warm-up to this week’s meeting, Trump Tweet-lashed China for doing “little to help” rein in Pyongyang and he has since warned the US is prepared to go it alone in bringing the North to heel.- Trade -During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly bashed China for its “unfair” trade policies and accused it of artificially depressing its currency to give its exports an unfair advantage.Since taking office, he has often returned to the theme, warning that he will slap the world’s second-largest economy with massive tariffs if it does not increase US access to its markets.In a tweet last week, he highlighted China’s massive trade imbalance with the US — over $310 billion last year — as a serious problem that could make his upcoming talks with Xi “difficult”.But Trump has also hinted at his willingness to use trade issues as a bargaining chip to secure more cooperation from China on North Korea.China has its own wish list, including fewer restrictions on exports of sensitive US technology.- Taiwan -Trump infuriated China by taking a protocol-breaking phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and suggesting he might break from the US’s long-standing One China Policy, which nominally acknowledges the Asian giant’s claims over Taiwan without recognising them.The situation cooled down after a conciliatory phone call in February with Xi, where Trump walked back his comments.The move seems to have placated Beijing, but it left many in democratically ruled Taiwan wondering if the brash billionaire might use their home as a bargaining chip.- South China Sea -China’s claims to most of the South China Sea and its controversial moves to build on disputed islands and reefs in the area, including installing military facilities on some, have drawn strong criticism from Washington.Several of Trump’s cabinet, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have warned Beijing against throwing its weight about in the region, insisting the US would intervene if necessary to preserve international rights of navigation.- Human rights -Human rights have been a long-standing point of conflict in Sino-US relations.When Trump took office, many Chinese dissidents thought he might be willing to take a hardline against Beijing on the issue.But the president — who praised China’s handling of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in a 1990 interview — has so far demonstrated little interest in the issue.The White House has said the topic will “continue to be brought up in the relationship”, but human rights activists are worried the Trump administration has already missed several opportunities to spotlight Beijing’s abuses.Without US pressure, they argue, the problems will only worsen.last_img read more

Halfway Through Special Session Patrick Wants Better Communications With House

first_imgBob Daemmrich for the Texas TribuneGov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus meet at the short Cash Management Committee meeting on July 18, 2017.Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick marked the halfway point of the special session Tuesday by calling for “better communications” with the House, which has moved much slower on Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda than Patrick’s Senate has.  “Like you would do in any business, you’d sit down with the three leaders and have a plan, but we have no communication with the House,” Patrick said in an interview with a conservative group, suggesting House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has repeatedly rebuffed his requests to sit down together and game out the special session. “We have to have someone we can communicate with.” “I’ve not had one meeting with the speaker of the House in nine months, face to face, on policy,” Patrick added, noting that for himself and Abbott, “it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen or work out in a seamless way to do the people’s business if no one will sit down and talk with us. So the special session is really left up to the governor and I to try to direct it.” The Big Three — Abbott, Patrick and Straus — regularly shared breakfast together on Wednesdays during the first half of the regular session. But those breakfasts came to an end during the second half as tensions between the House and Senate intensified, leading to a legislative standoff that sparked the current overtime round.  Straus’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Patrick’s remarks Tuesday, which were made during an interview on Facebook Live with Michael Quinn Sullivan, the president of the influential conservative group Empower Texans. Patrick’s tone Tuesday was somewhat more conciliatory than at the end of the regular session and the start of the special session, when he accused of Straus of laying the groundwork for a state income tax with his school finance plan, a claim the speaker has called “laughable.” Patrick has also taken aim at Straus aides, saying in one instance that the speaker’s chief of staff is a Democrat despite scant evidence to back it up.  “My door is open,” Patrick said Tuesday. “The speaker has my phone number. He knows where I am most of the time. I don’t care about our differences. I don’t care anything that’s been said in the past. I want to sit down and find a way to complete the governor’s agenda.”  Yet he still had some harsh words for Straus on Tuesday, especially when it came to one of Patrick’s biggest priorities: a “bathroom bill” that would regulate which restroom transgender Texans can use. Straus opposes such legislation, which  has not yet received a committee hearing in the House.  “Right now, if that bill fails,” Patrick said, “he alone will have killed it.”   This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/01/halfway-through-special-session-patrick-wants-better-communications-ho/.The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. Sharelast_img read more