Kyle Ball, a 2014 SM East graduate and current freshman at Kansas State, sacks Texas quarterback Shane Buechele on Ball’s first collegiate play of his career. (Contributed by Kyle Balll)Kyle Ball wasn’t guaranteed playing time when he was told he would suit up for Kansas State, however he knew who he’d dedicate his game to: his 15-year old brother Caleb.He plays for Caleb because he’s an inspiration to Kyle, and has taught him to not take anything for granted and to live in the moment.The 2014 Shawnee Mission East alumnus lost his true freshman year of playing as he deferred his enrollment until the 2015 spring semester.Then, there was a possibility of Kyle being redshirted this season so he could have an additional year of eligibility.“It did stink not being with my class, my teammates, that I got to know that summer,” Ball said of the 2015 summer. “Not being able to do any football for a year was a downer. I helped coach my high school team — the freshman and the varsity on Fridays — it was a lot of fun to still be a part of football.But on Oct. 22 — exactly one year after Caleb was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a type of blood and bone marrow cancer — Kyle had his number called in a home game against Texas.And he made the most of the opportunity in his first game since helping the Lancers win the 2014 state championship.On his first play of his collegiate career, Kyle, a defensive end, sacked Texas quarterback Shane Buechele.Kyle has now appeared in three games and recorded another sack against Iowa State on Oct. 29, giving him two on the season, which is third most on the team.While his parents didn’t get to see him play in the Texas game they did see him the past two games.The wait was well worth it in Kyle’s eyes, who took classes at Johnson County, helped coach the Lancers’ freshman team, but most importantly, he helped Caleb, who is now in remission.“In the long-run, I think it was a really good thing to do,” Kyle said. “I got a lot bigger during the fall too. I was able to focus on the things I needed to help develop myself.”Kyle said he’s matured a lot in the past year as he’s learned to not be as care-free.He added he and Caleb, and brother Calvin, who is currently a senior at SM East, have grown closer as brothers.“Life can change very quickly and you have to be more responsible,” Kyle said. “Make each day as it is and enjoy what you can.”Kyle said everybody came together as a family during the past year.Since he was home during the day, Kyle would make lunch for Caleb, make sure he was feeling OK and took him for treatment at the hospital, which was difficult for Kyle to see Caleb go through.“It’s very thoughtful of him,” Caleb said in a text message. “He has shown lots of support and helped out in the beginning a lot, helping me get to where I am now. I’d say not only Kyle, but my other brother Calvin too, have all grown a much stronger and loving relationship with each other through my experience.”Caleb had to stop playing football, but doctors did give him good news.“My doctor said that I should be able to play next year so that’ll be exciting to get back into football,” Caleb said.Kyle and the Wildcats head to Waco, Texas, on Saturday to face Baylor. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN2.
April 1, 2017 Regular News Governor, Speaker release their picks for the CRC Governor, Speaker release their picks for the CRC Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran rounded out the Florida Constitution Revision Commission by announcing their appointments to the 37-member commission, which convenes every 20 years to review Florida’s Constitution and propose potential amendments to be approved by Florida voters. “I’m incredibly honored today to appoint members from across Florida to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission,” Scott said. “These members stood out as exemplary choices for this historic commission whose diverse backgrounds and experience in education, business and policy will ensure we continue to champion policies that make Florida the best place for families for generations to come.” Corcoran said he believes his appointments understand and respect the role of the constitution and the separation of powers. “With that as a foundation, these appointees are diverse, principled, and won’t march in lockstep with anyone,” Corcoran said. “And my only charge to each has been to do what they believe to be right.” Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Senate President Joe Negron had announced their picks earlier. Attorney General Pam Bondi is automatically a member. The governor appointed Carlos Beruff, a Florida developer, as chair of the commission. His other appointments include: • Dr. Jose “Pepe” Armas, a distinguished physician and healthcare executive from Miami. Dr. Armas currently serves as chair of MCCI Group. Gov. Scott appointed Dr. Armas to the Florida International University Board of Trustees and he is a member of the National Advisory Board of Health Research Resources, Inc. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board and is a member of the Interview Committee of Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and on the Advisory Board for the School of Nursing and Healthcare of Georgetown University. • Lisa Carlton of Sarasota, co-owner and manager of the Mabry Carlton Ranch, Inc., and former Florida state senator. After graduating from law school, Carlton practiced law in Sarasota County for several years before entering public service. Carlton is a member of the Board of Directors for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and is a founding member of the Florida Historic Capitol Foundation. • Timothy Cerio of Tallahassee, an attorney practicing at his own law firm. Cerio has previously served as general counsel to Gov. Scott from 2015 to 2016 and chief of staff and general counsel at the Florida Department of Health from 2005 to 2007. In 2013, Cerio was appointed by Scott to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the First District Court of Appeal. • Emery Gainey of Tallahassee, who has devoted his career to law enforcement. Gainey is a member of the Attorney General’s senior executive management team and currently serves as the director of law enforcement, victim services, and criminal justice programs and is the liaison between federal, state, and local law enforcement administrators and the Attorney General. In 2016, Gov. Scott appointed Gainey to serve as sheriff of Marion County, where he served until January 3, 2017, before returning to the Attorney General’s Office. • Brecht Heuchan of Tallahassee, the founder and CEO of ContributionLink, LLC, a political intelligence, data analytics, and fundraising company. Heuchan also owns The Labrador Company, a Florida based political and government affairs firm. • Marva Johnson of Winter Garden,the regional vice president of state government affairs for Charter Communications and serves as the chair of the Florida State Board of Education. Previously, Johnson served as a member of the Florida Virtual School Board and Advisory Board for Rollins College’s Crummer Center for Leadership Development. • Darlene Jordan of Palm Beach, the executive director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, a nonprofit that supports education, health, and youth services, and the arts. Jordan is a member of the Board of Governors of the State University System and Fordham’s Board of Directors. Jordan is a former assistant attorney general for the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. • Fred Karlinsky of Weston, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s insurance regulatory and transactions practice group. Karlinsky has been an adjunct professor of law at Florida State University College of Law and is a Florida Supreme Court certified mediator. Karlinsky sits on Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. • Belinda Keiser of Parkland,vice chancellor of Keiser University for more than 20 years. Keiser has served as an an ex-officio member of the Florida Council of 100, member of the board of Florida’s Chamber of Commerce, and on the Florida Government Efficiency Task Force. Keiser is serving as a reappointed member of the 17th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission and as an appointee of Gov. Scott to the Enterprise Florida Board of Directors. • Frank Kruppenbacher of Orlando,an attorney who has spent much of the past 10 years serving his community and the state through positions on various boards and commissions. Kruppenbacher has served on the Florida Commission on Ethics, Florida Commission on Sales Tax Reform, Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce, Orange County Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Taskforce, Orange County Oversight Committee, Orange County Charter Commission, Central Florida Zoological Board, Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Orange County Sheriff Department Oversight Board. He currently chairs the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. • Dr. Gary Lester, vice president of The Villages for Community Relations and has spent 34 years as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. Lester has served on the United States Military Academy Nominations Board and the Judicial Nominating Commission – Middle District of Florida. • Jimmy Patronis of Panama City,who is currently a commissioner on the Florida Public Service Commission. Patronis also represented District 6 (Bay County) in the Florida House of Representatives. Patronis was appointed by Governors Jeb Bush and Lawton Chiles to the Florida Elections Commission and is also a past chair and board member of the Bay County-Panama City International Airport and Industrial District. • Pam Stewart of Tallahassee, who is the commissioner of the Florida Department of Education. Stewart began her career as a school teacher. She spent the first 20 years as a guidance counselor, testing and research specialist, assistant principal, and principal at both the elementary and high school levels. • Nicole Washington of Miami Beach, a state policy consultant for the Lumina Foundation, where she has worked to expand access and success for students in higher education and collaborated with organizations. In Florida, Washington has served as the associate director of Governmental Relations for the State University System Board of Governors, as well as the budget director for education in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget. Washington is a board member of Florida A&M University, the LeRoy Collins Institute, and the Veterans Trust Board. She is also currently a member of Class VII of Connect Florida. Speaker Corcoran’s appointments include: • Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, who represents House District 116 in Miami-Dade County. In 2005, he earned a J.D. from Columbia University where he studied state constitutions. He has been chair of the Energy and Utilities Subcommittee (2012-2014) and the Regulatory Affairs Committee (2014-2016). He currently serves as the chair of the Commerce Committee. Diaz has served on several boards and councils, most notably as the Florida representative to the Southern States Energy Board (2013-present) and as chair of the Public Service Commission Nominating Council (2013 and 2015). • Speaker Pro Tempore Jeanette Nuñez, a small business owner from Miami-Dade County where she currently represents House District 119. She sits on the board at Kristi House, a children’s advocacy center responsible for sexual abuse cases in Miami-Dade County, and is affiliated with the Women’s Healthcare Executive Network. In 2016, she was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by the United States Department of Education. • Rep. Chris Sprowls, an attorney currently representing House District 65 in Pinellas County. He currently serves as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He has served as a coordinator for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and served as the advocacy chair for the 2014 Dunedin Relay for Life. He also has volunteered with the North Pinellas YMCA and serves on the YMCA of the Suncoast Healthy Living Committee. Sprowls also served as an assistant state attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit. • Sen. Tom Lee, who serves Senate District 20, consisting of parts of Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk counties. For over 30 years, he has been a licensed real estate agent and an owner of Sabal Homes of Florida. In 2004 he was chosen by his colleagues to lead their chamber as president of the Senate (2004-2006). Lee has also served the Senate as chair of the Rules Committee from (2000-2004), chair of the Appropriations Committee (2014-2016), and chaired a Senate select committee to implement constitutional amendments passed by the voters in 2002. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served as a member of the Hillsborough County City/County Planning Commission and the Hillsborough County Zoning Board of Adjustment. • Sen. Darryl Rouson, a lawyer from St. Petersburg practicing with the Dolman Law Group. In 1981, he became the first African American prosecutor in Pinellas County. In 2003, he was appointed the first chair of the newly formed Substance Abuse and Addictions Task Force for The National Bar Association. He also served as president of the St. Petersburg NAACP from 2000-2005, chair of the St. Petersburg Black Chamber, and as a member on the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission in 2007. • Sheriff Chris Nocco of Pasco County. Sheriff Nocco has extensive law enforcement experience, having served with the Philadelphia Public School Police, the Fairfax County Virginia Police Department, and as a deputy with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He was a first responder on 9/11 and during the Washington sniper incident. He has served as deputy chief of staff of the Florida House of Representatives and as chief of staff at the Florida Highway Patrol. • Erika Donalds, a certified public accountant from Naples. Donalds is the chief financial officer/chief compliance officer and partner at Dalton, Greiner, Hartman, Maher & Co. — a New York-based investment management firm. She has served on the Collier County School Board and was a member and past president of Parents Rights Of Choice for Kids, a nonprofit focused on representing parent and student interests at the state and local level. • Rich Newsome, senior partner of the Newsome Melton law firm. While in college, Newsome worked for the Florida House Minority Office. After law school, he worked as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern and Middle Districts of Florida. In 2001, Newsome was appointed by Gov. Bush to the Fifth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission and served as the JNC’s chair during his term. He is a past president of the Orlando Federal Bar Association, the Florida Justice Association, and a past-member of the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice, and past-president of the Central Florida Trial Lawyers Association. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Foundation and is a past member of the St. James Cathedral Parish Council. • John Stemberger, a civil trial lawyer from Orlando who is president of Florida Family Policy Council. In 2001, he was appointed by Gov. Bush to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Ninth Judicial Circuit. He has served as a guardian ad litem for 13 years with the Orange County Bar’s Legal Aid Society. He also served as chair of the board for WIN Family Services, a large foster care and child welfare agency in the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland. Stemberger also helped found Trail Life USA, a Christian scouting movement for boys.
“We tried to change up the defense and try to get into passing lanes so we can run,” Fox said. “That’s what we love to do.”Sophomore guard Brittany McCoy applied steady pressure defensively and was able to collect four steals, which led to her team-leading nine assists.Offensively, Campbell continued to play well, taking advantage of offensive rebounds to add seven points to her total.Campbell said she was surprised by the lack of height on Northwestern’s team, which allowed her to get some points early in the game.“I didn’t know they were that tall until I got close to them, and they were about here,” Campbell said, holding her hand up at shoulder-height.Borton called Campbell the difference-maker of the game, saying the team needs more than just Knight and Fox to put up quality numbers.“Leslie and Emily are going to do what they do every night, but it’s the other players that will determine our success,” Borton said. “Korinne was the player who stepped up tonight.”Minnesota shot 50.9 percent from the floor, with Fox, Campbell, McCoy and Knight shooting a combined 59 percent and accounting for 60 of the team’s 68 points. The rest of the team shot just 23 percent in 13 shots.But the biggest thing the Gophers need to improve on from the game is taking care of the ball, Borton said.“It wasn’t the prettiest game,” she said. “I felt like 15 turnovers was a lot for us tonight with a team that didn’t press. We have to play a little better on Thursday.” Fox, Knight combine for 42 in win Mark HeiseFebruary 11, 2008Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintNorthwestern continued to be the rock every team gets to kick in women’s basketball Sunday, as Minnesota (17-8 overall, 8-5 Big Ten) booted around the Wildcats at Williams Arena in a 68-48 win.up next Penn statewhat: Women’s basketballwhen: 7 p.m., Thursdaywhere: University Park, Pa.Northwestern (4-20, 0-12) didn’t have a single player score more than 11 points and committed 18 turnovers, handing the Gophers 24 points.“We did what we needed to do to win tonight,” coach Pam Borton said.Senior forward Leslie Knight started off the game hot, hitting her first four shots from the field to give the Gophers a 13-7 lead before heading to the bench with 14 minutes left.Minnesota combined that with a very aggressive defense that caused two shot clock violations in that period, but Northwestern exploited the one flaw in the Gophers’ first-half defensive scheme, grabbing seven offensive rebounds.With the offensive boards going to the Wildcats and Minnesota’s lack of offensive power, Northwestern was able to get back in the game, taking the lead at 17-22 as junior guard Emily Fox was the only player scoring for the Gophers, putting up 14 points in the half.Minnesota switched up the lineup and brought in sophomore forward Korinne Campbell.The Gophers used her size advantage to collect three easy layups. Knight put in her two cents, as well. Minnesota was able to open the lead up to 34-24 at half, thanks largely to Knight’s 6-6 effort from the floor.The Gophers jumped out to a 43-29 lead five minutes into the second half and cruised for the remainder of the game.Minnesota used its comfortable lead to spend the second half trying out a few different half-court traps and some zone defenses.
Robinson asked wrestlers at a March 23 team meeting to turn in drugs to him in an attempt to deal with them internally. He said wrestlers would receive amnesty if they reported drug activities.Though one wrestler tested positive for marijuana and two for amphetamines, the team wasn’t tested for Xanax, despite UMPD insistence that the team be screened for the drug to “give the athletic department a better idea of how big of an issue the use of Xanax was by members of the wrestling team,” according to UMPD documents.In an interview with police, Robinson said he knew team members were involved in a drug ring, and had told them he wouldn’t disclose what wrestlers told him, unless investigators gave involved wrestlers immunity from prosecution, the report said. A UMPD investigator later told Robinson he couldn’t provide amnesty.“I find that at the time of the team meeting, Coach Robinson knew or reasonably should have known that he had no authority to offer the student athletes amnesty,” University Senior Associate General Counsel Brent Benrud said in the report, adding that he also should have known he should not have taken the drugs from team members and should have reported the drug activities to administrators.In a written response to the report, Robinson said he is a scapegoat for the University, and that accusations that he tried to intentionally stymy investigations mischaracterized his actions.“The Report sacrifices accuracy to create a narrative to support a pre-determined outcome to find fault with me and exculpate the University and senior employees in the Athletic Department,” he said in the response. “The Report is filled with excuses for the University’s failure to act and masks the lack of adequate policy guidance and support to assist coaches in addressing situations involving and helping student athletes with drug issues.”While Robinson shared some information about the alleged drug problem on the team, Coyle said at a Wednesday press conference he withheld many important details.Gophers wrestlers would be treated like any other student regarding the University’s code of conduct if there were to be discipline for those involved, he said at the press conference.University Board of Regents Chair Dean Johnson said Robinson had to be held responsible for his misconduct.“We must hold our coaches and student athletes to a high standard,” said Johnson. “The wrestlers caused it, and [Robinson’s] response was not appropriate according to University policies.”Brian Edwards contributed to this report. Report details ‘serious misconduct’ with J Robinson’s handling of team’s drug problemThe report, released Wednesday afternoon, found that former University of Minnesota wrestling coach, J Robinson, refused to fully cooperate with investigators to shield his wrestlers from punishment. Mark VancleaveFormer Gophers wrestling head coach J Robinson would be entering his 30th season of coaching Minnesota, but was fired Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Robinson was originally put on paid administrative leave on June 1. Ethan NelsonSeptember 8, 2016Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintFormer University of Minnesota wrestling team head coach J Robinson tried to shield Minnesota wrestlers allegedly involved in a drug ring from punishment, while obstructing investigations of the claims, a University investigation has found.The thirty one-page, partially redacted report, released Wednesday, was launched after allegations surfaced that Robinson sought to internally handle a drug use and distribution ring among wrestlers that formed early this year. The school’s investigation found Robinson made promises of amnesty to student athletes he wasn’t authorized to make, failed to disclose information to investigators and tried to protect Gophers wrestlers.“You engaged in multiple acts of serious misconduct … I am disappointed with your repeated failures to answer important questions asked of you,” wrote Athletics Director Mark Coyle in a letter to the coach Wednesday. “Coaches cannot decide to conceal knowledge of misconduct and attempt to handle matter on their own … nor can coaches interfere with the investigation of a matter.”Robinson was fired Wednesday after nearly 30 years as the wrestling program’s head coach. “I’m terminating coach Robinson’s contract,” athletic director Mark Coyle said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “I have a great deal of respect for coach Robinson and what he’s accomplished during his 30 years at the University of Minnesota. That respect cannot excuse his conduct in this instance.”Brandon Eggum was named the interim head coach for the season. The University was made aware of the allegations in April through a report to its ethics reporting system, prompting a University of Minnesota Police Department investigation. The school launched an internal investigation at the end of May.More than a dozen wrestlers allegedly used or sold Xanax, a prescription anti-anxiety drug, according to Hennepin County court documents. No criminal charges were filed against Robinson or team members.Coyle placed Robinson on administrative leave June 1 — almost three months after the allegations surfaced.The University’s report, citing multiple interviews, largely with redacted sources, said Robinson was aware of wrestlers allegedly selling Xanax to team members and other student athletes, but wanted to wait until the end of the season to deal with the situation.Robinson was aware of the team’s drug problem by late February, according to the report, but asked Senior Associate Athletics Director Marc Ryan about athlete drug testing forms on March 10. The investigation found that this was the first time athletics department leaders heard of the situation, although no information about selling drugs had been shared with them, the report said.The school said the few wrestlers Robinson had chosen to undergo testing could not be tested because the forms didn’t provide enough reason. However, the entire team was tested on March 22.
Le Monde:Aujourd’hui, les cadeaux pour adultes les plus vendus (étude Deloitte, 2013) sont, dans l’ordre : les livres, le chocolat, les cosmétiques, les DVD, l’argent. C’est si simple finalement de ne pas se tromper. Alors, d’où viennent ces erreurs critiques qui poussent quelqu’un à offrir un CD de Mylène Farmer à un fan d’opéra ou un pull taille 12 ans à son fils de 40 piges ? Une étude publiée cette année dans la revue Current Directions in Psychological Science suggère que, lors de la sélection d’un cadeau, les donneurs se concentrent sur le moment de l’échange et préfère en mettre plein la vue plutôt que de miser sur les aspects pratiques (sauf à offrir un aspirateur en or qui cumule les deux aspects).Read the whole story: Le Monde
Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.
Adam Sampson is the first to acknowledge that his new job as legal ombudsman is potentially a poisoned chalice. One of the main catalysts of the Legal Services Act (LSA), which brought his organisation into being, was (as he puts it) ‘the woeful record on complaints-handling [of] the Legal Complaints Service and predecessor bodies’. The former chief executive of homeless charity Shelter goes still further, using the word ‘scandal’ to describe the profession’s past inability to get its house in order. It is often overlooked that the 2007 reforms were driven as much by the profession’s much-criticised track record on complaints, as they were by any pro-competition agenda on the part of the last government. Over a decade ago, way before the phrase ‘Tesco Law’ entered the legal lexicon, the then lord chancellor, Lord Irvine, gave the Law Society until the end of 2000 to sort out complaints-handling or it would lose part of its regulatory powers. Four years later, the consumer group Which? identified the profession’s continued failure to deal with unhappy clients as ‘the greatest threat to self-regulation’, and ministers threatened the Law Society with a £1m fine if it failed to address the problem. Since that nadir, Sampson acknowledges that the LCS ‘hugely improved’ the situation, while noting that ‘the damage had been done’. He adds: ‘That problem is increasingly now going to be my problem rather than that of the profession,’ he reflects. ‘I am quite clear about that.’ The LSA takes responsibility for complaints-handling out of the hands of the profession, placing it squarely at Sampson’s door. LeO, as the service is now known, is expected to open for business on 6 October. Parliament has yet to sign off on the commencement order required for the new office but that, Sampson says, is only a matter of timetabling. The new organisation has the endorsement of the new government and will not therefore be tossed on the Tories’ ‘bonfire of the quangos’. Staff had only just moved in to LeO’s Birmingham HQ when the Gazette interviewed its head last week. ‘We doubled in staff this Monday,’ he says, adding that the total payroll now stands at 120. A new IT system has yet to be road-tested and recruits are presently undergoing thorough and compulsory training. At full strength the office could be 350 strong – but, controversially, only 50 have been drawn from predecessor body the LCS so far. Sampson spent a few days in the High Court earlier this year successfully fighting off a judicial review over whether the new organisation should take on LCS staff under the TUPE laws. Mr Justice Akenhead ruled that TUPE did not apply because LeO was an independent government body. So why have so few staff come from the LCS? For a number of reasons, replies Sampson. Some did not want to make the move from Leamington Spa to Birmingham. LeO pays less than the LCS, reflecting the local job market (investigator salaries start in the low £20,000s). ‘The Law Society did agree a 12 months’ pay supplement but it looks as though pay has been an issue,’ he adds. There was also unwillingness on the part of some to ‘join an organisation that is going to do something in a very different way and with a very different culture’. Sampson readily acknowledges that there is also a ‘perception issue’ on the part of LeO as well. It was important for the organisation not to be ‘encumbered with the cultural baggage of the old organisation’, he says, and that it made a conscious effort to ‘make a distinction between the culture and people’. Individually, people can be fantastic,’ he says, but adds: ‘If you get too many people with an existing set of assumptions then you automatically bring the culture.’ He is also conscious that the consumer groups have been ‘hugely critical of the existing arrangements, the LCS and all the predecessor bodies. How could I possibly explain to them that they need to have trust in these new arrangements, that we were something that they could trust, only that we were staffed by the same people?’ What can the profession expect from LeO? The new body is a single ombudsman scheme covering consumer complaints about all lawyers (not just solicitors but barristers, licensed conveyancers, and legal executives) and promises to be independent and impartial. Practitioners might be forgiven for glazing over at the prospect of another complaints-handling scheme for the profession. And they have already had one ‘ombudsman’, the formidable Zahida Manzoor (both Legal Services Ombudsman and Legal Services Complaints Commissioner), who was often sharply critical of the process. How will LeO be different? On one level, the ‘shape’ of the new process is the same, Sampson replies. There will be a volume call-handling ‘front end’, fielding an anticipated 100,000 ‘contacts’ a year (letters, emails and phone calls). This will be whittled down to about 15,000 to 20,000 cases that fall within scheme rules to investigate. The other 85,000 people need to be signposted to other sources of help. Then there is a complaints-handling process which ‘investigates and then resolves by agreement if possible’ those cases that are within the scheme. Intractable disputes go to the ombudsman for a full decision. ‘Where things will differ will be the style of the operation,’ Sampson promises. Ombudsman schemes are different to the kind of experience that lawyers have had previously. ‘They are necessarily and overtly independent, informal and inquisitorial. They aren’t part of the profession.’ He points out that the LCS is ‘owned and still feels part of the professional family’. For example, a complaint made to the LCS or the Bar Standards Board ‘mirrors the court process’ insofar as it is ‘formal and legalistic’, he explains. Statements are taken; copies passed to the other side; comments are then copied; both sides make submissions; and if verbal statements are taken they are transcribed. That whole process is paper-based. ‘Those are not features of the inquisitorial process,’ he says. ‘All we are interested in is finding out what happened. Of course we will give both parties the opportunity to comment on what we believe we have found. We will prefer to deal with things by phone and email rather than formal, written letter.’ Where phone calls are made, they will not be transcribed. Instead they will be recorded as voice files and attached to the notes in case of a challenge. ‘Everything will be paperless,’ he says. His main observation about his recent trip to the High Court relates to the huge amount of unnecessary paper work. Some of LeO’s approaches will – as Sampson puts it – ‘challenge the cultural assumptions of the profession’. His purpose will not be to come up with ‘a binary answer’ (‘yes/no’ or ‘guilty/innocent’) because professional services complaints are often not clear cut. ‘The amount of grey often hugely overwhelms the amount of black-and-white,’ he says. ‘The other thing some solicitors might struggle with is we’re not a rules-driven organisation,’ he continues. The ombudsman will not be interested in whether lawyers have followed every detail of guidance from the Solicitors Regulation Authority. ‘You can follow the rules and provide a poor service. You can drive a horse and cart through the rules but provide fantastic customer service. It is the service provided that matters.’ Behind this approach, the watchdog has real teeth. The LeO can order an award of up to £30,000 for poor service. Although Sampson is keen to get the language right, he prefers ‘redress’. As he explains it, ‘award’ suggests a sentence ‘for wrong which has been done’ whereas ‘redress’ is ‘a mechanism for putting the consumer back in the position they should be in’. What will his personal approach be? Will he be a crusading consumer champion? ‘An ombudsman is entirely neutral between consumer and profession,’ he says. ‘An ombudsman who is a consumer champion is failing in their primary duty to be independent. You cannot take one side or the other.’ So he will not be as outspoken as Manzoor? ‘I have spent many years as a campaigner,’ he says. ‘I know the difference between campaigning and information-giving. This is not a campaigning job; it is not my job to wag my finger at the profession. My job is to say to the profession very firmly here is what I am finding, here are the things that you might need to think about in terms of structural failures.’ Sampson began his career as a probation officer in London before becoming deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust in 1989. He was later assistant prisons ombudsman at the Home Office and chief executive of drugs charity RAPt. He became chief executive of Shelter in 2002. From heading high-profile campaigning charities that seek to improve the lot of society’s marginalised to a startup watchdog in professional services seems something of a departure. Why make the move? Sampson insists it is ‘vocational’ and that there is ‘a mission-driven element’. He points out that he has been involved in a couple of major turnaround jobs and the move represented ‘an opportunity to set up a high-performing organisation’ from scratch. Sampson has strong views about lawyers but, he makes clear, no antipathy toward the profession. Indeed, he is married to a lawyer and has worked with lawyers for many years on the frontline in prisoners’ rights and human rights, as well as in housing. ‘Shelter had 35 solicitors and 600 people who, in a law firm would be described as “paralegals”. Each and every one worked out of a sense of mission and a desire to help.’ He recalls coming into Shelter at 2am on a weekend and ‘seeing my solicitors still there with a stream of refugees who had emergency housing needs. Their clients had nowhere else to go. These were not lawyers taking advantage. These are people using their legal qualification to help. That is a picture of the profession that remains significantly true.’ Equally, Sampson has seen his share of dodgy lawyers, in particular working as a probation officer. ‘My God, I saw some dismissive and shoddy work with some pretty vulnerable people that nobody ever really saw or cared about.’ His background in frontline services will no doubt mean that his dealings with recalcitrant professionals will be direct and to the point. Does he think the issue of complaints will continue to be a thorn in the profession’s side in the post-LSA world? The challenge for the profession will be different. Lawyers can expect greater scrutiny of their own complaints-handling. ‘The Legal Services Board is very clear that there needs to be a significant improvement… and let me be plain, I will be as interested in how individual firms dealt with the complaints as to how the complaint arose in the first place.’ Beware; he will have little patience with correspondence that is ‘full of legal jargon and gobbledygook and written to someone who plainly has no ability to understand it’. But, of course, it is an advantage for the profession that new arrangements mean ‘the responsibility for the discharge of the administrative function moves outside the hands of the profession’. He adds: ‘The profession can no longer be blamed for a structural failure to handle complaints. That is my problem and I can be a scapegoat for that.’ Jon Robins is a freelance journalist
Construction’s chronic skills shortage is likely to be exacerbated by the prospect of Brexit and the expected clampdown on workers entering the UK from the EU. Mark Farmer’s Modernise or Die report last year warned of a 25% fall in the workforce over the next decade due to the numbers expected to retire, and that was without factoring in the Brexit effect. Already a lack of skilled workers is having a detrimental impact on businesses who struggle to recruit the people they need. Building’s own recent survey of salaries among contractors showed that 61% of employers say skills shortages are adversely affecting productivity.So what can be done to attract the right people in the right numbers to construction, and just as importantly, once recruited what can be done to ensure they want to remain in the industry? We think the 50 companies in this year’s Building Good Employer Guide have some of the answers by insisting on high standards when it comes to working conditions, training and development, benefits and work-life balance.An encouraging finding this year is that nearly all the companies in the guide spend time and resources on outreach initiatives, working to improve the image of construction through visits to schools and colleges, with some doing pro bono work on community projects. This approach appears to have the dual benefit of attracting a more diverse intake to construction while providing existing staff with rewarding work that they feel makes a real difference. It has had some tangible results: in the guide women make up 27% of the overall staff numbers, well above the 13% in the rest of the industry – while non-white staff represent 13%, which is just below the proportion of ethnic minorities in the general population.An encouraging finding is that nearly all the companies in the guide spend time and resources on outreach initiatives, working to improve construction’s image through visits to schools and collegesThis year’s guide is proof that some employers are overturning old cultures, with the vast majority embracing flexible working for all staff and many making the effort to curb long hours. There is also a continued recognition of the pressures on parents, through generous maternity and paternity leave packages and encouraging fathers to take up their recent entitlement to parental leave. Admittedly the uptake of parental leave by fathers is low, as it has been in almost every sector since it was introduced in 2015, but the hope for those wanting a level playing field in the workplace is that this rises in coming years.It’s also welcome to see career development is still a clear priority for employers, and it seems engineering firms this year come out on top for sheer number of training hours offered. Meanwhile, the working environment in the office and staff’s mental wellbeing continue to be a concern. Stand-out offers include Architype’s yoga and meditation groups and the counselling service at Alinea.Beyond the rewards these individual companies reap from their efforts, we should recognise that they are also doing a service to the wider industry by helping to change the public’s overwhelmingly negative perceptions of construction. When teachers and careers advisers are telling pupils that careers in construction are unattractive, there is a clear need to show the industry at its best and to shout loudly about the opportunities it offers young people. These top employers have set the bar high and their achievements are truly commendable.
EUROPE: Irish-registered RIVE Rail Leasing Ltd has acquired 32 Vossloh diesel shunting locomotives from Mitsui Rail Capital Europe, in a transaction co-arranged by Paribus Capital and Paris-based RIVE Private Investment. Senior debt was structured and provided by KfW IPEX-Bank.RIVE Rail Leasing is a joint venture between investors advised by Rive Private Investment, Paribus Group’s Northrail business and French wagon leasing company Millet Waggons. Millet has taken over asset management responsibilities for six of the locomotives, and Northrail the other 26.
CANADA: National passenger operator VIA Rail formally launched the process to procure a new fleet of trainsets for the Québec City – Windsor corridor when it issued a request for qualifications on April 16.Following the government’s allocation of funding in the 2018 federal budget announced in March, VIA Rail is looking to procure 32 push-pull trainsets. These would offer a total of 9 100 seats, with improved accessibility compared to the current fleet, Tier 4 compliant and more fuel-efficient diesel engines and the option to operate on electrified lines in the future.The deadline for responses to the RFQ is June 6. VIA Rail expects to issue a request for proposals to shortlisted bidders in June, with bids to be submitted by September or October. Award of the contract is planned for December. VIA Rail said bids would be assessed on the basis of ‘financial capacity, supplier experience, proposed solution and deliverability’. ‘With a new fleet, VIA Rail will be able to offer a modern travel experience to its customers, at a greatly reduced environmental impact’, said VIA Rail President & CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano when the RFQ was issued. He said the new fleet would enable passengers to travel more quickly and more safely in vehicles which would be ‘better-adapted’ to modern life, with improved wi-fi, ‘quiet and pet-friendly’ coaches and compartments for large luggage including skis and bicycles. The fleet ‘will also allow VIA Rail to remain the most accessible mode of transport in Canada for people with disabilities, by meeting or in certain areas, exceeding universal accessibility standards’, he said. ‘This important milestone of our transformation plan will convince more Canadians that VIA Rail is truly the smarter way to travel in the Québec City – Windsor corridor.’