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    Mosby’s campaign finance report is riddled with mismatched names and addresses – Baltimore Brew - February 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The modest West Baltimore rowhouse, located a block from the now-razed childhood home of bandleader Cab Calloway, appears an unlikely epicenter of campaign contributions to Baltimore States Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.

    But 2103 Druid Hill Avenue is listed as the address of 10 people who donated $3,200 to Friends of Marilyn Mosby, her campaign committee.

    None of the 10 is reported as the buildings owner in property tax records, while all of them are identified in Mosbys report to the State Elections Board as employees of the Baltimore City States Attorney Office.

    In fact, only one, Janice Bledsoe, works for the SAO. The others range from an equity manager to an inspirational author, a sewer contractor, an events planner, an architect, a hospital association lobbyist and three attorneys.

    The buildings owner, on the other hand, has never contributed to any political candidate, according to state elections records.

    A similar scrambling of names, addresses and employers throughout Mosbys report makes it impossible to determine with certainty who exactly contributed to Baltimores top law enforcement officer last year:

    Is the real donor the person listed as the contributor?

    Or is the donor the person tied to the address listed, which in dozens of cases does not match the contributor named?

    Or is the employer of record a hint of the actual giver?

    The 10 donors having the same West Baltimore building address that is not owned by any of them. (State Board of Elections database)

    The Brew has tried unsuccessfully to reach Mosby and her treasurer, Shariff J. Small, for explanations about the discrepancies found in the report.

    While the amount of funds in question is not large (about $20,000), the degree of confusion and the apparent inaccuracies are striking.

    While the amount of funds in question is not large (about $20,000), the degree of confusion and the apparent inaccuracies are striking.

    As chair of the committee, Mosby vouched under the penalty of perjury that the information in the report is complete and accurate.

    Most of the contributions were raised during a 40th birthday fundraiser held in January 2020 for Mosby at the Sangria Patio Bar. Suggested contributions ranged from guest ($40) to host ($1,400).

    Several of the larger donations came from regular Mosby contributors such as Robert Harrington, the city plumbing contractor, whose $1,400 contribution was listed to the 2103 Druid Hill Avenue address, and P&J Contracting, whose $1,400 contribution was linked to a Mount Vernon law office rather than his northwest Baltimore office and yard.

    The fundraiser where scores of names and addresses were scrambled in a report that Mosby pledged to contain complete and accurate information. (Mosby flyer; January 20, 2021 campaign report)

    Other oddities crop up in the report.

    For example, Kevin Pfeffer, a $3,000 Mosby donor, is listed as residing at the Hanover, Md., address of Byron Deese, a Tuskegee University graduate who has given generously to Mosby and her husband, City Council President Nick Mosby, both Tuskegee alums, in the past.

    Pfeffer is the president of CMDS, a drug management company, who last year recruited Bilal Ali, a former state delegate and ex-Mosby community liaison officer, as CMDS executive director.

    Ali is also listed in the report as a $1,400 Mosby contributor, but not as a CMDS manager. Instead, he is identified as an employee of Coldspring Co., a construction contractor.

    Outside of the unclear provenance of many Mosby donors, an examination of the report raises questions about how much money is in the states attorneys campaign coffers.

    The Friends of Marilyn Mosby committee reported an ending cash balance (as of January 13, 2021) of $68,386.79. But Harbor Bank of Maryland, where the account is held, reported $49,263.18 nearly $20,000 less on the same date.

    Almost always, campaign committees reconcile the two accounts, often to the last penny, in reports submitted to the State Board of Elections.

    This last happened in Mosbys case in January 2019, when both the committee and the bank reported a cash balance of $53,401.21. Since then, the Harbor Bank account has lagged as much as $27,000 behind committees stated balance.

    The Brew found several other recurring patterns in Mosbys latest report:

    Employees and former SAO employees are linked to the addresses of longtime Mosby contributors:

    SAOs Communications Director Zy Richardson, according to the report, contributed to Mosby through the Baltimore County address of a media services company whose CEO, Tyrone Taborn, earlier contributed $1,500 to Mosby.

    Incoming City Councilman Antonio Glover, a former Mosby community liaison officer, contributed to Mosby under the address of ex-housing commissioner Daniel P. Henson. At the same time, three SAO employees used Glovers apartment building address to donate to Mosby.

    SA Chief of Administration, Camille Blake Fall, contributed $40 to Mosby through Club Paradise, according to the campaign report. The owner of the West Baltimore bar previously donated more than $3,000 to Mosby.

    SA Deputy Bledsoe (incorrectly listed as living as 2103 Druid Hill Avenue in the report) had her actual Baltimore address listed for contributions by two other individuals, one affiliated with the SAO.

    Seemingly random people were used as campaign cutouts.

    A donation linked to the Cockeysville address of the CEO of Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. is attributed to an electrician from Parkville. Last year, the electrician, Sekwan Merritt, received media attention when he sued the U.S. government for excluding him from the Paycheck Protection Program because of his criminal record.

    Hairstylist Char Wilson is linked to the address of longtime lawyer-lobbyist Eric Bryant. Last year, Bryant managed Kweisi Mfumes 7th District Congressional race and is now Mfumes chief of staff.

    2/19 UPDATE: Bryant tells The Brew, I dont have any knowledge of or relationship to Char Wilson.

    DJ Quicksilva, also known as The Party KingPin, is listed as a Mosby contributor at an address associated with a former Pikesville businessman.

    A $1,000 contribution listed to a Washington, D.C., attorney has the Bowie address of a public relations and branding expert who has a history of supporting Mosby (see below). Nicole Kirby is listed as the owner of both CarVer Communications and the Bowie property used as the address for attorney A. Scott Bolden.

    Mosby contributors are listed by their first name, followed by the last name, a violation of Elections Board protocol of registering contributors by last name, then first name.

    Listing contributors this way makes it difficult to compare Mosbys 2021 campaign report with her prior reports, which followed the last name, first name standard.

    It also can add confusion to and diminish the transparency found in an online Elections Board search. Thats because the database is keyed to a last name, first name sequence.

    To reach this reporter:


    Mosbys campaign issues statement on Brews story about her legal fees (2/16/21)

    Cumming stands her ground, dismissing criticism by Mosbys lawyers (2/16/21)

    Marilyn Mosbys lawyers were paid with campaign funds (2/16/21)

    For Marilyn Mosby, a taxing question (2/14/21)

    Seeking exoneration, Marilyn Mosby instead gets highly critical report from Baltimores Inspector General (2/9/21)

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    Mosby's campaign finance report is riddled with mismatched names and addresses - Baltimore Brew

    Spotlight on the Line Trade: Chris Siford – Transmission & Distribution World - December 18, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Early Years I enrolled in college but quickly decided it wasnt for me. A high school pal convinced me to study to be an electrician, but I failed to land an electrician job after night school. I remember asking Now what? My dad asked me if he ever thought about working for Met-Ed and having a job for life. I signed on with the company in 1985 to work in the York, Pennsylvania, area. I enjoyed learning how to climb poles under the tutelage of the seasoned linemen who helped train me. When the old guys told me get your tools and climb, we did exactly what they told us to do even if we could have used a bucket truck because we had a lot of respect for them. After five years of study in 1990, I topped out as a first-class lineman.

    Moving into a Troubleman Position Inow have 35 years of total line experience including more than a dozen years as a troubleman. Earlier in my career, I enjoyed working on a crew with other first-class linemen. It was a coveted position that offered good pay, plenty of opportunity for overtime and weekends off. I would later work up to lead lineman, overseeing my crew with a keen eye for safety. But it was the hands-on nature of the job that spurred me to exchange my lead linemans hard hat for that of a troubleman when the opportunity arose more than a decade ago. I always loved doing the work, and it drove me nuts watching other people doing it from the ground.

    Day in the Life A troubleman, by definition, is often the utilitys first responder to an outage or electrical problem. I relish working by myself and getting the job right the first time. Although I work solo most of the time, I know all 40 line workers in the York region. If there is too much work for any one person to handle, Ill arrange for more crews and materials to get the job done easier and safer. I am committed to improving customer service reliability by making repairs so that the problem doesnt reoccur. That might entail adding measures such as squirrel guards to prevent future animal-related interruptions in the same spot.

    Memorable Moment Nine or 10 years ago, a call came in from my supervisor one evening. The firemen needed me to pull a deceased man out of a transformer at the Caterpillar plant. Contractors were in the process of subdividing the shuttered heavy equipment assembly plant into spaces for smaller businesses. A man attempting to steal copper wire was killed after contacting energized equipment. My supervisor gave me the choice of not having to retrieve the body since Met-Ed did not own the industrial equipment at the former plant. I accepted the grim task because I wanted to keep the firemen safe. I was the one with testers, rubber sleeves and rubber gloves.

    Plans for the Future I plan to retire in five years and work part-time as a home electrician, installing service wiring in houses.

    Editors Note: T&D World is excited to partner with Milwaukee Tool on a sponsorship for the linemen profiled in our Lifeline department. To thank the linemen for their dedication to the line trade, Milwaukee will send a tool package to each lineman profiled. If you are interested in being profiled in our monthly Lifeline department or know of a journeyman lineman who would be a good candidate, email T&D World Field Editor Amy Fischbach

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    Spotlight on the Line Trade: Chris Siford - Transmission & Distribution World

    More States Hit Google Over Alleged Monopoly Conduct – The Wall Street Journal - December 18, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    WASHINGTONGoogle was targeted Thursday in an antitrust lawsuit joined by 38 states, which alleged that the Alphabet Inc. unit maintained monopoly power over the internet-search market through anticompetitive contracts and conduct.

    The states alleged that Google leverages its position as the dominant search engineand the personal data such a perch allows the company to gatherto limit consumers from using competing search engines, force businesses to use its proprietary advertising tools and foreclose competition from specialized search engines for travel or local businesses.

    Consumers have better products and services when theyve got choice in the marketplace, and theyve been deprived, said Democratic Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser at a video-streamed news conference with other state attorneys general.

    This will be a unified effort, said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Republican.

    Google has long said it operates in a competitive market. In a blog post Thursday, Google economic policy director Adam Cohen said some of the actions described in the suit were taken to improve search results.

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    More States Hit Google Over Alleged Monopoly Conduct - The Wall Street Journal

    Skilled Trades Students Nationwide Receive Tool Kits to Practice Hands-On Skills at Home – Transmission & Distribution World - December 18, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    As many schools across the country continue to manage virtual teaching and learning this school year due to COVID-19, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools has distributed more than 3,500 tool kits to skilled trades teachers to lend to their students.

    Like laboratory or other career courses, skilled trades classes can be particularly challenging to teach online because they require the use of tools not always available at home.

    With more than one million students studying trades like construction, welding, manufacturing, automotive and electrical, take-home tools are one way to allow students to keep honing their hands-on skills even if their schools operate entirely or partially remotely. Many of the donated tool kits included a tool bag, assorted hand tools, measurement tools, and/or safety gear. Harbor Freight Tools for Schools may expand the tool kit effort to more schools as it evaluates impact and demand over the course of this semester.

    We have been humbled by the incredible ingenuity and resilience weve seen from skilled trades teachers and students during the pandemic, said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. Were providing these tool kits because we believe that skilled trades jobs are essential to our country, now more than ever, and that means skilled trades education is essential, too.

    As COVID-19 shuttered businesses across the country this year, skilled tradespeople, particularly those employed in public works and utilities, were deemed essential by many states. Even before the pandemic, eight in 10 American voters agreed that skilled trades jobs are important, according to a NORC poll commissioned by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.

    Despite being regarded as crucial, and despite the family-supporting wages they offer, skilled trades jobs routinely ranked among the hardest to fill over the past several years. A forthcoming wave of retirements is expected to worsen existing shortages well into the next decade. That means todays skilled trades students have the opportunity to find meaningful and sustaining work in these fields.

    Our country is going to come out of this pandemic strongerand skilled tradespeople and jobs will be essential to that recovery, said Eric Smidt, founder of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. With many high school students preparing to enter a trade immediately after graduation, we want to make sure they can keep learning and growing their skills at home.

    The tool kits come courtesy of donated tools from Harbor Freight Tools, the nationwide tool retailer. Smidt, the founder and owner of the company, created the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program in 2014. Today, the program is operated by The Smidt Foundation, established by Smidt in 2016.

    Tool kits have been made available to teachers who are past winners of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence and are currently teaching at a U.S. public high school. Also, the prizewinning teachers nominated a trades teacher in their community to receive tool kits. Each teacher was able to customize their requested kits depending on their students course of study and needs. Kits have been distributed to schools, which will lend them to students to take home for the semester or school year, similar to the way schools lend laptops.

    The tool kits expand on a project implemented last spring at Enumclaw High School in Washington State by construction teacher Bob Kilmer. Kilmer, a 2017 Prize for Teaching Excellence winner who recently retired and now consults for Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, provided tools to his students to pick up on campus.

    These tool kits will be essential to keeping learning on track for students who love thinking with their hands, Kilmer said. We hope these tools make life a little easier and keep students on the path to meaningful post-secondary and career opportunities.

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    Skilled Trades Students Nationwide Receive Tool Kits to Practice Hands-On Skills at Home - Transmission & Distribution World

    Ford revamps Washington team as Biden heads to White House – Detroit Free Press - December 18, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    stang gallops into the 21st Century in Fords first purpose-built electric vehicle Detroit Free Press

    Curt Magleby,top lobbyist for Ford Motor Co. in Washington, D.C., is retiring after 32 years with the company on Dec. 31 just as the industry prepares for a new administration amid unprecedented transformation to all-electric vehicles.

    He went from Exxon petroleum engineer to financial analyst for the electronics division at the Ford Rawsonville plant in 1988.

    I still remember I had my Audi 4000 I had bought in California, Magleby, 61, told The Hill news. As a new MBA, you get there early, you park in front and you try to do all the things right. I remember, it was about like day three, and one of my colleagues came up and said, Curt, you might want to park the car in the other parking lot.

    Curt Magleby, top lobbyist for Ford Motor Co. in Washington, D.C., will retire at the end of 2020 after 32 years.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

    His hard work and commitmentled to international assignments that included oversight ofdaily plant operations in Mexico and, eventually, the top lobbyist spot in 2011.

    In the new year, Laura Dove, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will step in andmanage Ford's federalgovernment affairs team in Washington.She started at Ford in May as director of transportation policy after working as the Secretary for the Majority.

    Every Republican senator has counted on Laura to listen to our goals and concerns and help translate them into action on the Senate floor,McConnell, R-Kentucky,told Politico in February. She is a keen strategist who always thinks several steps ahead. She has not just been one of my own closest advisers, but a key resource to our entire majority and a central part of its many accomplishments.

    Laura Dove, who becomes top lobbyist for Ford in Washington, D.C. in January, walks with Robert Duncan earlier this year. He succeeded Dove as U.S. Senate Secretary for the Majority, working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.(Photo: Laura Dove)

    Dove, 51, was elected Secretary for the Minority in 2013 and Secretary for the Majority in 2015. Her duties includedmanaging the Senate floor schedule and providing advice on parliamentary procedures to senators.

    When Ford hired Dove earlier this year,U.S. Sen.Tom Carper, D-Delaware, said shehad a reputation for working across party lines.

    At a critical time in our nations history, Laura worked to help senators find common cause and agreement on important issues, including addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Carpersaid.

    Dove will report to Mitch Bainwol, 61, chief government relations officer at Ford, who managesgovernment relations globally for the company. He is also a corporate officer.

    Meanwhile,Rachel McCleery, Fords government and public policy communications manager since 2019, has beenpromoted toa newly created role of director, government relations for manufacturing policy.She plans to emphasize Ford's U.S. manufacturing priorities.

    McCleery, 32, whoiswidely respected among reporters for her rapid responses at all hours, also will managepressaffairs until her successor is named.

    We are delighted that Rachel has agreed to join the Government Relations team and advocate directly with the new administration and Capitol Hill next year," Bainwol said Wednesday. "She combines deep relationships throughout Washington, sophisticated grasp of the policy process and a deep understanding of what makes Ford Motor Co. so unique in Americas corporate and manufacturing landscape.

    Meanwhile,Rachel McCleery, Fords government and public policy communications manager since 2019, has been promoted toa newly created role of director, government relations for manufacturing policy. She is seen here in 2020.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

    McCleery is a native of Ida andthe daughter oflongtime UAW memberRob McCleery, a master electrician who works in Ford research and engineering in Dearborn.

    Prior to Ford, sheworkedin severalgovernmentroles.

    McCleery served as spokesperson for the Treasury Department's Office of Economic Policy and Tax during the Obama administration. She spent two years as chief communications adviser and deputy policy director toSenate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. McCleerymanaged the energy and environment policy portfolio for the late Congressman John D. Dingell, D-Dearborn, andalso served as the national communications director for U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich..

    Rachel was a valued member of my team, and I could always count on her to get our message out on the important work we were doing on behalf of Michigan families," Stabenow said in June 2019. "She was with me advocating for Flint families during the water crisis and fighting unfair trade practices that hurt our automakers and workers.

    Mitch Bainwol, chief government relations officer at Ford since March 2019, oversees global strategy for the company. He began his career at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget as a budget analyst during the Reagan Administration. Later, he served as CEO of the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

    Regardless of who runs Congress or gets elected to the White House, Ford has consistently worked toward bipartisan outreach. Bill Ford Jr., executive director of Ford, is an outspoken supporter of sustainability andthe Paris Climate agreement, the international treaty signed in 2015 in Paris to slow global warming.

    More: Top Ford labor negotiator Gary Johnson to retire after 34 years

    More: Ford CFO replaced in management shake-up on Day 1 of new CEO

    More: Ford hires global CMO from eBay amid shakeup in tech, vehicle launches

    In July 2019, Ford sided with the State of California, which advocated for stronger air quality regulations, whileGeneral Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sided with the Trump Administration in its fight against tougherstandards. GM revised its position after Joe Biden wonin November, dropping its pre-emption lawsuit but stopping short of embracing the California agreement.

    Ford CEO Jim Farley tweeted that GM had "reversed course" after it quitthe Trump alliance.

    Matt Godlewski oversees state and local government affairs for Ford Motor Co. while based in Dearborn.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

    President-elect Biden has pledged support for the automotive industry, which he helped rescue during the Great Recession. In recent weeks, Bidenearned praise for plans to reduce climate-warming vehicle emissions with support of "ambitious" electrification goals.

    Michael Sheridan leads international government affairs for Ford.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

    TheFord government affairs team run by Bainwol is rounded out by:

    John Kwant manages technology and mobility policy for Ford as part of its government affairs team.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

    More: Ford wants to cut 1,400 salaried jobs in U.S.: Who is targeted

    Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512or Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.

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    Ford revamps Washington team as Biden heads to White House - Detroit Free Press

    Decorating for the Holidays? Doctors Share Tips on How to Avoid a Trip to the ER. – Baptist Health South Florida - December 18, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Here in South Florida and around the country, emergency departments see a notable increase in falls, back strains and other injuries during the holidays. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries sustained while decorating account for some 15,000 trips a year to the ER.

    Resource spoke recently with two experts from Miami Neuroscience Institute, a part of Baptist Health South Florida:

    Jose Andres Restrepo, M.D., medical director for outpatient rehabilitation, specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, electrodiagnosis, regenerative medicine and musculoskeletal conditions including arthritis.

    Raul A. Vasquez-Castellanos, M.D., neurosurgeon and director of complex spine surgery, specializing in the surgical treatment of complex spinal conditions including tumors, degenerative spine diseases, spinal deformities, scoliosis, kyphoscoliosis and neurotrauma.

    We asked Drs. Restrepo and Vasquez for their thoughts on how you can prevent the most common holiday injuries and avoid the ER this holiday season.

    Resource: In general, regardless of the season, what are the most common types of injuries you treat in your practice?

    Dr. Vasquez: We see a lot of people who come in with nerve impingement, herniated disk, disk degeneration, chronic back pain, and simple spine fractures. Most of these result from falls or lifting heavy things. But I think it also has something to do with the fact that we live in an area with an aging population, at a time when people are living longer. As we age, our flexibility, balance and reaction times all start diminishing. We need to be mindful of our body and what its actually capable of doing.

    Resource: What kind of injuries are you seeing now, as people decorate for the holidays?

    Dr. Restrepo: So far this holiday season, weve seen a 10 to 15 percent increase in patients with back injuries. Most of these have been a result of decorating ones home for the holidays moving heavy furniture and boxes, falling off ladders and performing various other activities required for the job. Weve had patients complaining of everything from neck pain from looking up for long periods; back pain from bending over and lifting; hand and wrist pain from grappling with hammers, screwdrivers and other tools; ankle sprains from falling off ladders; knee sprains from awkward rotation of the knee, and bursitis of the knee from kneeling on hard surfaces for too long.

    One patient came in with a back sprain and lacerations on his back. He was on a ladder stringing holiday lights along the eaves of his house, unspooling the lights he had wrapped around himself as he worked his way along the eaves. At some point he slipped and fell into the bushes below but, fortunately, his fall was broken somewhat by the lights he had wrapped around himself and the ones he had just strung around the chimney. Otherwise, his injuries might have been much worse.

    Resource: Are you seeing anything different this year with holiday injuries because of the pandemic?

    Dr. Vasquez: We are. What is common now, it seems especially with this second surge were seeing now is people are injuring themselves at home but reluctant to go to the ER because theyre concerned about exposure to the coronavirus. I can tell you that our facilities are perhaps the cleanest, safest spaces anywhere far more so than your local grocery store. Remember that delaying care is aggravating an existing injury. By not seeking treatment, you could possibly wind up with permanent weakness and long-term, chronic back pain. Is that a chance you want to take?

    Resource: Dr. Vasquez, what recommendations do you have for avoiding injuries during the holidays?

    Dr. Vasquez:

    Resource: And Dr. Restrepo, what about youwhat advice can you offer that would help people avoid the ER during the holidays?

    Dr. Restrepo:

    Resource: If somebody is injured, should they go to Urgent Care or the ER?

    Dr. Vasquez: If you suffer an acute injury from a fall, such as a broken back or broken arm, Baptist Health has Urgent Care and Urgent Care Express locations across South Florida, some of which are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We also have a couple of freestanding emergency departments in West Coral Way and West Kendall, and of course, there are on-campus ERs at all of our hospitals across the region. Serious back injuries requiring specialized care will be referred to our team here at Miami Neuroscience Institute. If you need us, were here 24/7 to help care for you.

    Tags: ankle sprain, back pain, back sprain, Dr. Jose Andres Restrepo, Dr. Raul Vasquez-Castellanos, holiday decorating injuries, holiday decorating safety tips, Miami Neuroscience Institute

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    Decorating for the Holidays? Doctors Share Tips on How to Avoid a Trip to the ER. - Baptist Health South Florida

    Ramos’ journey serves as true inspiration | | – Community journal - December 18, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Nick Ramos, currently owner of an electrical company in Kerrville and pastor of a local Spanish Baptist Church, took a long and winding road from the mountains of Mexico into the United States and to his current home in Kerrville.

    He was a teenaged resident of a village in the mountains of Oaxaca, 300 miles south of Mexico City, when he decided he had to come to the U.S. to have a future, he said.

    I left when I was 14 years old to come to the United States with a friend and a relative, in the late 1970s, and we crossed into California as illegals, he said.

    Ramos said they traveled together for a while, seeking work in various places along the way, but Ramos eventually made his way through Oregon and into Washington state before moving to San Antonio and finally to Kerrville.

    I was too old to go to school by then, but too young to work regularly, and still an illegal; and my life had no meaning or purpose, he said. I was working some, but I was basically a vagabond with no direction in life. But I was blessed to have heard about the Gospel from people I met.

    He said one place was in Washington in the snow up to here, he said, gesturing hip-deep where he'd found an orchard operation that included small cabins the workers could stay in. And one day some men in front of the local post office invited him to a home for coffee with a kind Hispanic family.

    They fed me, and gave me advice; and the husband told his own story about God changing his life. They invited me to church, but I said no.

    But that contact led to a job offer on a ranch in eastern Washington, which he said he started to refuse, but finally said yes. It was while he was working on that ranch that he began to read the Bible, he said.

    And God changed my life, he said. Looking back now, God was working in me all along. I got a hunger for learning more, and in the mid-1980s my pastor suggested I go to a theological school.

    Ramos said yes, and worked for another year before traveling to school in San Antonio. He graduated from that training in 1987.

    The connection to Kerrville happened when a Kerrville pastor visited his theological school to lecture the students. Ramos said he kept a note about that pastors name and home church, and when Ramos graduated, he called that pastor and asked him for work, to gain some experience in his new field of endeavor. That was at the Maranantha Christian Center open here in the 1980s.

    I met my wife Margarita there, Ramos said. Shes the hero in my life.

    Ramos said about the same time he approached John Miller, then-owner of National Car Sales, a person Ramos said God put alongside him on his path.

    Miller hired Ramos, who at the time had no training or experience in repairing, maintaining or selling cars. He hired Ramos to detail and drive the cars Miller bought and sold.

    But Miller also offered added training, he said; and Ramos said he started at a $5 per hour salary, already higher than previous jobs offered.

    Then he taught me how to rent cars, buy them at auction and sell the vehicles. He was my mentor.

    Miller was the one who asked Ramos to learn to speak and read English. And Miller requested Ramos listen to San Antonio radio station WOAI to help his "language" lessons.


    "Looking back now, over the years, God was working in me, and on me, the whole time. And I got a hunger for learning more," Ramos said. "And I also always have had a desire to do more. And after Margarita and I married in 1990, I got an opportunity to be the pastor of a church in Oklahoma. And when our first child was two years old, we moved up there. Oklahoma was a whole new world, but we stayed a couple years up there."

    He said in the mid-1990s, they decided to move back to Texas; and Nick decided to learn another "more practical kind of work to do in addition to ministry."

    "I went back to selling cars, before I was hired by a local tradesman doing electrical work. And I fell in love with the work," he said. "As a new electrician, it was low pay for a while and we lived with my in-laws. And in 2000, I started working on my masters' electrician license."

    He said while he was getting that license, he continued "side jobs" as an electrician; and that all turned into Ramos Electric. Now his 29-year-old son Nicholas Jr. and 25-year-old daughter Genesis help run that business.

    He also continued in ministry, he said, at Calvary Temple Church, and with Pastor Matias Rodriguez, and it was through that connection that he met now-retired Baptist Pastor Bill Blackburn.

    In 2004-05, Ramos was invited by Blackburn and others to join the discussions about Christian Men's Job Corps, "again, a wonderful ministry, and I was an initial board member, and now I am again. I also was doing a jail ministry at the Kerr County Jail."

    Since then he studied online with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, for a master's degree, graduating again in 2019.

    Now he's a student again, enrolled in a doctoral program for another master's degree with Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    And about four and a half years ago, Nick and Margarita opened Mission Route 66 Church in Kerrville, starting in people's homes and rented spaces, now located at 425 McFarland St., Kerrville.

    "We are targeting people who don't normally go to a church. Sometimes we have 55 or 60 but under COVID, we have rectangular tables each with two or three chairs. We meet at 10:30 a.m. Sundays, and have a coffee bar and a juice bar for a healthy option," he said.

    "I had cancer a few years ago, and my doctor and my wife recommended those healthier options," he said. "We also offer Wednesday night Bible studies right now, online and health classes at the church sometimes. I'm just a beggar telling other beggars where to find bread."

    He said there are 10 Spanish Baptist churches in this multi-county area; and every three months all the congregations gather in one place.

    He said his wife is his hero, and got him into natural things, and 10 years later, his medical scans are clear.

    Ramos can be contacted by email at or through its website at Ramos holds services Sunday at 10:30 a.m.; and Wednesday at 7 p.m.; and has Instagram and Facebook, too.

    Electrical trade

    Ramos Electric has a home office at 1105 Ranchero Rd., and can do general maintenance work to custom homes, including lighting controls, heated flooring and specialty lighting.

    He can be contacted at

    Im home now, and along the way I became a permanent U.S. resident, and then a U.S. citizen five years ago.

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    The Women of The Expanse Will Be the Shows Greatest Legacy – Film School Rejects - December 18, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Set 200 years in our future, The Expanse is as much a sci-fi series as it is a political drama. Everyone wants to colonize the solar system and its a race to the start line. Earth is run by the United Nations, Mars is an independent nation terraforming its way to a greener future, and factions along the asteroid belt known as Belters are looking to gain more power on the interstellar stage.

    The show has drawn wide praise for its stunning visuals (most sets were built-out on the largest available stages of Pinewood Toronto Studios instead of heavily relying on green screens, and in Season 4, an active quarry helped create adesolate frontier-planet look). Its also famously scientifically accurate, a choice informed no doubt by showrunner Naren Shankar who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and previously worked as a scientific consultant for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

    Perhaps most impressively, though, from the beginning, the show fought for purposefully inclusive casting that is revelatory for the genre. As pointed out by Tasha Robinson at The Verge, Theres no reason to assume, sight unseen, that any given referenced characters, regardless of their position in the world, will be white men.

    Still, among all these technical and narrative achievements, none are as remarkable as the way the women on the show dominate and lead the storytelling. There are women of all ages, races, body types, and sexualities in the universe of The Expanse, in positions of authority, representing the working class, pilots, soldiers, scientists, refugees, community leaders.

    Even more impressive than their numbers is the fact that none of them fall into the usual tropes women in genre shows are typically confined to, such as the Girl Boss, the Mary Sue, and the Born Sexy Yesterday (a term coined by YouTuber Jonathan McIntosh who uses it to describe the sci-fi trope found in movies like Tron, The Fifth Element, and the original Planet of the Apes, where women are sexy and helpless, externally Barbie-like but internally child-like).

    The minds of the women of The Expanse are always whirring, and the show delights in showing us how they work. As season five unfurls, it becomes clearer and clearer that their stories are the beating heart of the show. So lets give them their due recognition.

    Naomi, played by British-Dominican actress Dominique Tipper, is officially the Rocinantes executive officer. Shes also its chief engineer, conscience, and the love interest of its captain, Jim Holden. That order is significant. Her most important role is as the ship whisperer, making sure to repair it post-battle and generally help improve the quality of its flight and operations. Her skills are showcased daily as she attends to the problems, small and large, that spaceflight entails, and the respect she commands is evident in the way Holden regularly defers to her for major decisions concerning the crew.

    Naomi is also the conscience of the Rocinante, but she is not an infallible angel immune from having crises of conscience of her own. She was formerly a member of the OPA (the Outer Planets Alliance), a Belter collective seen as either terrorists or freedom fighters depending on whom you ask, and fell in love with one of the groups most brutish members, Marco Inaros, a man who has kept her from her son for years. Inaros actions at the end of Season 4 set him up as the Big Bad of the fifth season, giving Naomi the greatest personal and political motives out of anyone for going after him.

    I think sometimes when we talk about representation, we forget about the flawed-ness of humans, Tipper said in a conversation with TV Guide about the image her character provides. We dont just want to see a strong Black woman trope. We want to see a Black woman who is ripped from her family, and is navigating that, and has privilege, and that makes wrong decisions and does the right thing, and youre still in love with her at the end of it. Because I think too often when we try to diversify in Hollywood or on shows, we try and portray the most wholesome version of that or the most palatable version of it, and thats where you run into problems.

    Naomi is a Black woman who is the brains of the operation, a friend, a mother, a lover, someone who has been wronged and done wrong but is striving to right it all. As Samantha Olthof writes in FSRs review of The Expanse Season 5, The strong all-around performances this season are crowned by Tippers heart-wrenching delivery of Naomi.

    Drummer, played by Canadian actress Cara Gee, is a no-nonsense Belter captain. A lot of her fire comes from a personal connection to the material. Gee is Ojibwe and one of the few Native actors currently working in television let alone a science-fiction series. She explained to Entertainment Weekly at New York Comic-Con that Drummers passion for Belter justice reminds her of the struggles indigenous people are going through now.

    In real life, Im an indigenous woman, she says, and so for me, in particular, the questions about access to clean air and water and who has access to that is one that is extremely relevant given that so many reserves dont have access to clean water even in Canada and in the United States, and that, to me, is just so mindblowing: that we can exist in such luxury, some of us, and others so oppressed.

    Although she is both strong and smart, Drummer is not the strongest fighter or the smartest engineer on the show. She is, however, one of the most powerful people in any room she enters because of her innate ability to read people and ascertain their desires. She uses this gift to plot. Shes not too proud to work under someone she served as a prized lieutenant to two different OPA faction leaders proving her adaptability or to work with past enemies because she sees its utility.

    Shes not too squeamish to take out people aboard her ship who attempt a mutiny because she isnt clouded by idealism about how the groups can someday all get along. And when her legs are injured in the middle of a massive crisis, she powers through the pain and builds a solution while in her hospital bed so that she can return to help her shipmates ASAP. She is the most present of all the characters. Her mind is goal-oriented and always-active: In this moment what do I need, whose resources can I leverage to achieve my goal?

    Drummers friendship with Naomi is one of the highlights of the show. Both Belter women share a goal but have two very different perspectives on how to achieve it. In one exemplary scene the two talk about a drug dealer aboard their ship who is supplying incapacitating drugs to skiff drivers. Naomi is worried about handing over the guy to Drummer for fear of letting her down but also because she doesnt want him to be violently punished. This changes when his actions cause another shipmate to lose his life and damage much-needed equipment. I dont expect you to be perfect. Or anyone, Drummer tells Naomi. That skiff driver was free to put whatever he liked into his body we all are until that freedom puts others at risk. And then we act accordingly.

    Its a very enlightened leadership approach that demonstrates Drummers nuanced understanding of human behavior while also displaying her pragmatism: things that get in the way of her goal must be dealt with quickly and unsentimentally. With every scene she appears in, Drummer continues to prove she is one of the most unique women to appear in any sci-fi series.

    Bobbie, a Martian soldier played by Samoan actress Frankie Adams, is a trope-busting character in a genre prone to racist stereotypes where Asian characters are concerned. This September, a tweet went viral for dissecting the harmful trope of the nonverbal woman that many women of color are forced into on-screen. Within the thread, it was particularly evident that this trope is especially common for Asian female characters (Karen Fukuhara appears twice on the list for two different nonverbal roles). In addition to being nonverbal for largely unexplained reasons, Asian characters are also typically depicted as unfeeling and expendable (author Paula Young Lee wrote about this specific trope, The Expendable Asian Crewmember, for Salon).

    In The Expanse, Bobbie is the antithesis of these harmful stereotypes. She has a lively personality, is purposeful but not mechanical, and is definitely not expendable to the show. Since her introduction in Season 2, Bobbie has been given the most prized arc on any genre show: a heros journey.

    In a memorable sequence that could have easily been cut (or would never even be filmed on another show), Bobbie escapes from her room in the Mars embassy using her know-how in order to MacGyver an exit. Instead of nailing it on the first round, she noodles around until she finds a tool made of strong enough material to penetrate her window: fittingly, the purple heart Mars awarded her for parroting propaganda instead of standing in her truth. We watch her work through the problem. Methodical, logical, relentless. Her attributes arent just buzzwords to satisfy a demand for more feminist storytelling, they are provable because of the material the character is given.

    The shows writers also avoid the infamous Mary Sue trope by showing us how she achieves her wins and also letting us see her lose. We know Bobbie is a force of nature not because of her cool Martian war suit but because weve seen her kick ass with or without it. An interrogation scene shows she has the moral fortitude to stand up to her military command when she smells something rotten even if it means breaking from the Good Little Martian she was groomed to be her entire life.

    In another scene, she and two other characters get ambushed, and Bobbie has to figure a way out. She connects to the ships site plan and comes up with a daring escape. We watch as she makes her way through a shaft John McClane-style and takes out some gunmen. The sequence isnt all adrenaline, though, because while she can bluntly take out a series of men, she isnt a machine, so she knows she doesnt have to. When she encounters an electrician who stands between her and her goal, she uses her words to find a peaceable solution.

    Bobbies humanity is textual and is always present even in fight scenes. Her journey from blunt instrument for Mars to free-thinking agent of change has been one of the most rewarding on the show.

    Clarissa, played by Nadine Nicole, was introduced as the older sister of Julie Mao, the missing person who set off the events of the first season. The uber-privileged daughters of early-season antagonist Jules-Pierre Mao have very different trajectories on the show. While Julie turns her back on her father and his nefarious plans for weaponizing a lethal alien protomolecule, aligning herself with the Belter revolutionaries, Clarissa is at first glance a blindly loyal daughter.

    In the third season, she begins a methodical attack against Team Rocinante in an effort to seek justice for her father, whose ill-doings the crew helped bring to light. Clarissa is so committed to this assignment that she adopts an alter ego, goes undercover, and gets non-reversible modifications to her body that turn her into a lethal machine when activated. Her plans set off one of the tensest sequences in the show thus far: a multi-spaceship chase through an unexplored alien ring. Her fate seems sealed until, in a crucial moment, she overhears Holden and Naomi discuss how they need to save everyone from a potentially extinction-level event, and Clarissas view of him and of herself shifts. Her change of heart helps Team Rocinante thwart a hasty call from a captain who is seconds from killing them all.

    After a seasons worth of evidence pointing to her as the most cunning and unapologetic villain the team has yet faced, Clarissa ends up being a hero in their hour of need. Instead of killing her off after one redeeming heroic act (one of the tropiest tropes ever), the show decided it was more interesting to let us watch her change and grow, and it was right. Clarissa has plenty of time to stew on her bad life choices because she ends up receiving a life sentence for committing multiple homicides.

    Nicole was bumped to series regular for Season 5, and her arc in this season and on the show overall is evidence of the way The Expanse tries to complicate our understanding of simple television tropes like good guys and villains. On this show, doing something bad doesnt make you a villain at least, not permanently. Similarly, doing one good thing doesnt mean youre a good person. Clarissas character arc is a microcosm of the moral struggle that everyone on the show is going through in their own way.

    Avasarala, played by Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, is a shrewd and incredibly fashionable politician on the show who eventually becomes the UN Secretary-General, a.k.a the leader of Earth. She sees the world as a chessboard. In the third episode of the first season, theres a scene between Chrisjen and Frank, an old friend, in which he recounts a story about the time a young Chrisjen was tasked with coming up with a card game for some friends to play.

    You said we each get five cards, you dealt them out, then you pointed to the far end of the yard, and you said, Now whoever gets to the tree first, wins. You dropped your cards and were halfway there before anyone else realized what was happening. Frank explains that that was the moment he became terrified for her because it was the moment he realized she would do anything to win. The story neatly summarizes Chrisjens character. Imagine the ruthless political maneuvering of Game of Thrones Cersei but used for good instead of evil.

    In Season 4, Chrisjen faces a challenge to her seat as UN Secretary-General, and the election advisers she hires to help secure the win ask her to appear more maternal to voters, to exercise soft power rather than the blunt and sweary force shes used to wielding, and she all but laughs in their faces.

    The Expanse liberates Chrisjen from one of the worst constraints to which a female character can be chained: the prison cell of likeability. She is canonically and iconically unconcerned with whether people like her or not as long as she gets the job done. She is noteworthy because she is a powerful female character who is not simply a carbon copy of male leaders who came before her. This is foregrounded in the very first episode of the series, in which she is depicted as equally at ease torturing a man for information at a UN black site as playing with her grandson.

    Shes the most complex character in the series, capable of extreme warmth and coldness, both manipulative and caring, at times the most arrogant and at others the wisest. Though she begins the fifth season fresh off of losing the election, she is not diminished by the loss but fortified by it. If future genre writers are looking for a way to nimbly write about women and power, hers is the mold they should cut from.

    Naomi, Camina, Bobbie, Clarissa, and Chrisjen are just five of the many complex female characters that populate The Expanse. There are a lot of shows set in space, but The Expanse has distinguished itself in a classic and oft-explored genre by making sure that women are given, at minimum, equal standing with men on the show. Women are heroes and rogues, they can save the world, and they have just as much power to end it.

    In the mythology of The Expanse, society has already moved past the -isms that are still plaguing our world, like racism and sexism, but the series insistence that thats not just a line in the proverbial show bible but a real, critical, and undeniable part of its writing, will undoubtedly be its greatest legacy.

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    The Women of The Expanse Will Be the Shows Greatest Legacy - Film School Rejects

    Festivities on foot: Take a walking tour of holiday windows – Buffalo News - December 11, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    DeFlyer and cousin Don Vidler have co-owned the store for 35 years, creating displays in only hours that are as comprehensive as the products sold inside. Windows include quaint ceramic snowmen, Santa statues, light-up presents and holiday lawn signs.

    The community also took the reins on a window with an Aurora Historical Society theme, using festive crochet blankets, sewn pillows and poinsettia-patterned tablecloth, lined up top with a map of historic East Aurora.

    There are elves hard at work in the display windows outside of Fisher-Price on Girard Avenue, just off Main Street in East Aurora. (When you pass Vidlers on your right, hang a right on Riley Street.)

    A dozen or so 2-foot-high antique figurines sport red and green plaid and white beards, working away at making toys for Santas sleigh and surrounded by sawdust, paint cans, Christmas trees and Rudolph.

    Fisher-Price senior electrician Matt Alice starts assembling the circa-1920s and '30 displays every September and is ready to go by Thanksgiving.

    It gives everyone hope. They see the lights, make sure that the holiday is coming, Alice said. Theres so much going on in our world today, that maybe something a little stable thats been going on for years, put up in the same fashion, something to cling onto.

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    Festivities on foot: Take a walking tour of holiday windows - Buffalo News

    Marine vessel to carry 200 tonnes of trash every week in Abu Dhabi – Khaleej Times - November 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The vessel will be used to transfer different types of solid waste from Dalma Island in Al Dhafra Region to Ruwais landfill on a regular basis.

    The first marine waste vessel in Abu Dhabi with the capacity to transfer 200 tonnes of trash per week has been launched in Al Dhafra region.

    The Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center (Tadweer) introduced it as part of its continued efforts to enhance the collection, transportation and treatment of solid waste.

    The vessel will be used to transfer different types of solid waste from Dalma Island in Al Dhafra Region to Ruwais landfill on a regular basis.

    The first-of-its-kind facility in the emirate of Abu Dhabi articulates Tadweers continued efforts to protect the environment and ensure the public health and safety in line with the highest international standards.

    Compared to traditional methods, the vessel can accommodate large-sized waste containers, doubling the centres capacity to transfer huge amounts of waste from different areas of the island.

    The 79-tonne vessel is approximately 26 meters long, and is operated under the supervision of a permanent crew comprising six members, including two captains, a mechanic, an electrician and two assistants.

    The vessel will operate six times a week, carrying a total 200 tonnes of waste in a highly professional and environment-friendly manner.

    Dr Salem Al Kaabi, director-general of Tadweer, said: The opening of our first marine waste vessel comes as part of Tadweers continued efforts to develop an integrated waste management system to address the challenges posed by the increasing amounts of waste. Such efforts contribute to achieving Abu Dhabi governments objective of promoting environment sustainability and minimising the adverse effects of pollution on the environment.

    We launched this facility to provide the highest standards of waste management services in Dalma Island and to ensure its aesthetic appeal as a destination that boasts many tourist attractions and natural treasures.

    Original post:
    Marine vessel to carry 200 tonnes of trash every week in Abu Dhabi - Khaleej Times

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