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Friday, February 26, 2016


Original Story: marketwatch.com

Where you live in this country may help determine how satisfied you are with your life.

Overall, the well-being of residents in the U.S. was unchanged in 2015, as compared with a year prior, according to the “State of American Well-Being” report, which examined well-being across 190 U.S. cities and all 50 states, released by consulting company Gallup and wellness provider Healthways.

But in some places the well-being of residents differs significantly from others. “High well-being communities have citizens who are thriving across many aspects of their lives, who are optimistic about their future, and collectively who are productive, perform better, and have better health and lower healthcare costs,” the report reveals. A Custom Home Builder in Tampa FL can be built to suit your personal lifestyle.

To determine the level of well-being in each community, Gallup asked residents in cities and states across America questions along the following themes. No. 1: Purpose — do they like what they do each day and are they motivated to achieve their goals? No. 2: Social life — do they have supportive relationships and love? No. 3: Finances — do they manage their economic lives to reduce stress and up security? No. 4: Community — do they like where they live, feel safe and have pride in their community? No. 5: Physical issues — do they have good health and enough energy to get things done each day?

Residents of Hawaii have the highest quality of life once again (it has scored the No. 1 spot five times since 2008), followed by those in Alaska, which fell from the No. 1 spot last year. “Since 2012, the top 10 states with the most consistently high well-being are Hawaii, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, Alaska and Vermont,” the report adds.

Meanwhile, a number of metro areas in Florida, Colorado and California top the well-being list, while a few cities in Ohio rank at the bottom of all the 190 cities measured. A Los Angeles real estate lawyer is reviewing the details of this story.

10 cities with the highest well-being

1. Naples–Immokalee–Marco Island, Fla.
2. Salinas, Calif.
3. North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton, Fla.
4. Fort Collins, Colo.
5. Barnstable Town, Mass.
6. Santa Cruz–Watsonville, Calif.
7. Boulder, Colo.
8. Charlottesville, Va.
9. Anchorage, Ala.
10. San Luis Obispo–Paso Robles–Arroyo Grande, Calif.

10 cities with the lowest well-being 

181. Rockford, Ill.
182. Dayton, Ohio
183. Worcester, Mass.–area
184. Toledo, Ohio
185. Youngstown–Warren–Boardman, Ohio–Pa.
186. Chico, Calif.
187. Huntington–Ashland, W. Va.–Ky.–Ohio
188. Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton, N.C.
189. Fort Smith, Ark.–Okla.
190. Charleston, W.Va.

Hickory’s Mayor, Rudy Wright, notes that “While we think that Hickory is a wonderful place to live and work, we recognize the need to improve our image and we have embarked on a $40 million, voter approved, bond referendum for projects that are designed to attract young people and the companies that employ them.”

The Rockford mayor, Larry Morrissey, says that he is “passionate about improving health and wellness outcomes of Rockford residents” and to do so has started an initiative called Healthy Rockford to “find workable solutions for the social and economic factors that impact an individual’s ability to maintain a positive and healthy life.” An Illinois environmental lawyer is following this story closely.

None of the other cities with the lowest well-being scores have responded to request for comment from MarketWatch.


Original Story: nytimes.com

Technology companies employ strikingly few black and Hispanic workers. They blame the recruitment pipeline, saying there aren’t enough of them graduating with relevant degrees and applying for tech jobs.

Yet the data show that there are many more black and Hispanic students majoring in computer science and engineering than work in tech jobs. So why aren’t they being hired? A Computer Systems Degree prepares students to take leadership roles in the application, development, and management of technology.

Those who enter the candidate pipeline fall out somewhere along the way — and the culture and recruiting methods of tech companies seem to have a lot to do with it.

The pipeline problem is not a myth. Black and Hispanic students are underrepresented in computer science and engineering programs, relative to their share of the population, while Asian students are overrepresented.

Yet the pipeline is more fruitful than tech companies make it out to be. Among young computer science and engineering graduates with bachelor’s or advanced degrees, 57 percent are white, 26 percent are Asian, 8 percent are Hispanic and 6 percent are black, according to American Community Survey data. At the top 25 undergraduate programs, nearly 9 percent of graduates are underrepresented minorities, according to Education Department data analyzed by Maya A. Beasley, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut.

But technical workers at Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter, according to the companies’ diversity reports, are on average 56 percent white, 37 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic and 1 percent black.

One issue is that black and Hispanic computer science and engineering graduates are less likely than white and Asian ones to go into tech jobs. Forty percent of young Asian graduates do so, compared with 16 percent of black graduates and 12 percent of Hispanics, according to American Community Survey data.

Meanwhile, 10 percent of black computer science and engineering graduates have office support jobs, which include administrative support and accounting jobs, compared with 5 percent of white graduates and 3 percent of Asians.

Ms. Beasley studied why talented black students ended up in lower-paying, lower-status careers for her book “Opting Out: Losing the Potential of America’s Young Black Elite.” Those who studied science and technology were less likely than white students to stick with their majors when they felt they were underperforming, she found. Those who did stick with their majors were less likely to apply for technical jobs. They often pursued nonprofit or business work instead, she said, sometimes because they had heard negative things about the culture at tech companies, and seen how few black people worked there. An Energy Engineering Degree prepares students for a broad range of occupations solving some of today's leading energy related problems.

One example: At Facebook, where some employees had written “black lives matter” on the walls, others in recent days have crossed it out to write “all lives matter.” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, called the actions “malicious” and “deeply hurtful.”

“Any student of color looking at the numbers from the tech giants is going to be turned off and wary about taking a job there because it tells you something about what the climate is,” Ms. Beasley said. “They don’t want to be the token.”

Recruiting is another issue. Part of it is looking not just at Stanford and M.I.T. but also at places like historically black colleges. Even at the colleges that tech companies typically recruit from, students who are not white or Asian might not be in the networks to know about opportunities at tech companies.

Tristan Walker, a tech start-up founder and chief executive of Walker & Company, said he didn’t know about Silicon Valley until he was 24 and arrived at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“There definitely isn’t a pipeline problem, even going to the same schools companies go to,” Mr. Walker said. He puts the onus on the companies. “These folks aren’t working hard enough, they’re just not.”

Tech companies need to look into more places to find students outside the mainstream network, said Mr. Walker and Laura Weidman Powers, who together started Code 2040, a nonprofit that connects black and Hispanic engineering students with tech companies. (By the year 2040, some people predict, minorities will become the majority in the United States, and the group says its goal is that they are proportionally represented in the tech sector by then.)

When companies come to campus to recruit, for example, black and Hispanic students often simply don’t show up for information sessions, Ms. Powers said. But they’re more likely to come to workshops, like for writing résumés or preparing for interviews.

“That gets a higher yield in terms of students showing up, and they leave with an impression that we value them and their growth, as opposed to it just being a sales pitch,” she said. A Heavy Equipment Degree focuses on maintenance and repair of the diesel-powered equipment other industries rely on in order to operate on a daily basis.

Tech companies often give coders whiteboard interviews — asking them to solve a problem by writing code on a whiteboard, so the interviewers can see their thought process. At Code 2040, however, they discovered that many black and Hispanic students, unlike white and Asian ones, had never heard of this type of interview and were unprepared for it.

“There’s still a dominant cultural narrative in black and Hispanic communities that you have to be twice as good and keep your head down and work hard,” Ms. Powers said. “That does not translate to Valley culture, starting with the whiteboard interview,” because it requires people to work through errors in front of the interviewer, as opposed to presenting only the right answer.

Research has found that during hiring, managers are biased against black-sounding names on résumés, for instance, and interviewers weigh too heavily whether they’d want to hang out with someone. Software can help remove human bias, such as with new tools for stripping résumés of biographical information, offering blind auditions to job applicants or analyzing job postings for language that excludes certain groups.

Many tech companies have started doing things like requiring training on unconscious bias and hiring corporate diversity chiefs. But it is unclear how much of a difference these efforts make. Holding hiring managers responsible for diversity works far better than either staff diversity training sessions, which don’t work well, or networking and mentoring programs, which help a bit, according to a study analyzing three decades of work force data from 708 companies.

Some researchers offer other strategies: Use standardized interview questions, not subjective ones; evaluate hiring managers based on whether they bring in diverse candidates; build a Rolodex of potential hires by working with networking groups for minorities; hire more than one minority member in each batch of new hires, so they have a support network.

Techniques like these could expand the pipeline for tech companies — and for any other industry, too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Original Story: mlive.com

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Black business owners who filed a federal lawsuit against Mercantile Bank want confidential bank emails declassified to include in their complaint. A Dearborn business lawyer is following this story closely.

Attorney Curt Benson, representing 10 black business owners, said three emails deemed confidential by a judge in Kent County Circuit Court should be declassified in the federal case.

"They show a racial animus ... that leads us to a complaint of discrimination," Benson told Magistrate Judge Phillip Green.

The bank's attorney, Molly McManus, disagreed, and said: "We want the plaintiffs to take their best shot." An Atlanta banking lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

The business owners contend that the bank sought out their business to increase minority lending but took a "zero tolerance" approach when the businesses struggled, while working with white owners in similar situations.

The bank provided the emails during the discovery process when 11 business owners filed lawsuits in Kent County. Circuit Judge Christopher Yates determined the emails should be classified as confidential.

Ten of the cases later moved to federal court.

Benson asked the federal judge to declassify the emails or allow them to be filed under seal. He said the state court ruling should not apply to federal proceedings.

McManus, the bank's attorney, said Benson had reasons other than the lawsuit to include the emails in the court record. A Newark class action attorney is experienced in the effective resolution of class action lawsuits and related to damage inflicted upon groups of people.

"The motion is about making these documents public," she said.

She denied that the emails contained evidence of racial discrimination. Her concerns revolved around customers' accounts, and proprietary information, including growth strategy, selecting board members and evaluations.

"You don't want your competitors knowing about your policies and how you run your bank."

She rejected Benson's claims that parts of the emails showed "racial animus."

"We don't believe they support their case at all. We truly don't," she said. "We want them to use the documents. We're perfectly happy to let them take their best shot."

Benson had earlier filed the documents under seal but Green, the magistrate judge, ordered them stricken. He said that documents can be filed under seal only under extraordinary circumstances.

"Be aware, the court's not going to seal something just because it's bad for one party or another."

Green said he did not have jurisdiction to declassify the emails. He wondered if Benson would face sanctions in state court if he did not comply with its ruling, but Benson did not anticipate problems.

Both sides will see if they can find common ground on the emails – possibly redacting business information - before Benson files an amended complaint.

The black business owners contend the bank sought out their business then "aggressively yanked the loans back – leaving the borrowers and their businesses in far worse shape than if they had never created a relationship with Mercantile at all." A St Louis banking lawyer provides professional legal counsel and extensive experience in many aspects of banking law.

The bank calls the claims "nothing but conclusory allegations."

The plaintiffs in federal court are: Jeremiah "Jerry" White Jr., owner of Reflections LLC, a beauty salon; Leo Burns and Burns Contracting, Inc.; Todd Cross and Iron Cross LLC and Renew Property Services LLC; Tyrone and Paula Guy and Brownstone Properties, LLC, Rehabilitation Restoration, Relaxation Station LLC; Samuel Mickens and Mickens Group; Mitchell and Jodie Robertson and Premium Properties Unlimited LLC and MI-JO's Inc.; Monica Robertson and Precious Creation, Inc.; Jesse Strickland and Shoes Plus Now Inc.; bankruptcy trustee for Randall Sandifer and his wife, Ursula Mann-Sandifer, Sandmann barbecue restaurant; and Jimmie Taylor, Taylor Electric Inc.


Original Story: nydailynews.com

He’s a high-rolling matchmaker who loves to make his neighbors miserable.

Repulsive renter Richard Easton and his defecating dog turned a posh West Village condo into a hellhole over the last five weeks, leaving terrified neighbors cowering in their homes, a lawsuit charged Tuesday. A Warren eviction lawyer represents clients in a variety of landlord tenant cases.

Easton, who charges clients up to $100,000 for a love connection, wandered the building lobby naked from the waist down and demanded oral sex from a female employee, the suit charged.

Condo owner Elena Taranina said that was just the tip of the not-so-niceberg: Easton tossed knives at delivery people, ordered the staff to call him “Prince” — and let his dog poop all over the building roof.

“Easton’s activities are of such a nature that there is no telling when he might decide to verbally or physically attack someone, or to engage in vile or inappropriate conduct,” said Taranina in Manhattan Supreme Court documents. A Rochester landlord tenant lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

Taranina is the owner of Apt. 2C in 166 Perry St., where the condos go for $3.5 million and up.

Neighbor Alexandra Danielson, 24, said she’s seen Easton wandering the lobby in his underwear and screaming at the doorman.

“I thought he must want to be like Charlie Sheen,” she said. “He’s crazy. We all hate him. We want him out.”

Easton dismissed the charges against him as “a trumped-up bunch of bulls---” and blamed his woes on a doorman who held a grudge over a late-night request for a cheeseburger.

The lawsuit charges Easton, who had a guest shot on “The Real Houswives of New York,” requested the snack while in the lobby with his genitals exposed. A Memphis sexual harassment lawyer is following this story closely.

“It’s a mistake,” insisted Easton. “All of the accusations are false. The whole thing is bogus ... I’m a good guy.”

Easton, who shares the apartment with two unidentified roommates, said he’s three months ahead on his $11,500-a-month rent.

The fifty-something Easton also insisted that he was 40 years old. And while he brags on his website about life as “an international playboy,” he has a pair of domestic violence convictions from prior relationships.

Taranina’s 10-page complaint says condo management “has spoken repeatedly to and written to Easton about his conduct” — but received no love in return. Ferndale garage door repair service is available at all hours of the day or nights to accommodate your emergency.

“The constant yelling, threats, violent outbursts and inappropriate behavior has continues to cause damage,” the lawsuit charged.

The lawsuit says building management hired a security guard at a cost of $1,800 a day because of Easton — and Taranina says they plan to pass the cost along to her.

Taranina has filed paperwork trying to secure his eviction by the end of September.