No Surprises in Mayoral Debate With Election Less Than a Week Away

first_imgIncumbent Mayor Jay Gillian and one of the most vocal critics of his administration, Ed Price, met in a debate Wednesday, but the clash offered little drama.The two candidates are running for mayor in the municipal election on Tuesday, May 13.Each man stood on his record of accomplishment — Gillian as a first-term mayor elected in 2010 and Price as leader of the boards of the Ocean City Free Public Library Board of Trustees and Ocean City Housing Authority and of various other community organizations.About 200 people attended the forum Wednesday night (May 7) at Ocean City High School. The event was sponsored by the Democratic and Republican clubs of Ocean City. The candidates made opening and closing statements and took turns answering the same questions posed by moderators Bart Russell and Michaela Walsh.With no significant gaffes, attacks or highlights from either candidate, the debate likely did little to sway anybody but the most undecided voters. A tape of the debate will be rebroadcast on public access Channel 97 on the Comcast cable lineup.The following are summaries and excerpts from the forum. ON ORDINANCES (FROM TRASH-CAN LIDS TO DOGS ON THE BOARDWALK) THAT GO UNENFORCEDJay Gillian: Said he’s urged police department to “be nice, be kind.” Understands need for enforcement but doesn’t “believe in throwing the hammer down” for fear of greater repercussions from property owners and visitors.Ed Price: Agrees that people will remember “Ocean City’s the place I got the ticket.” But he suggests paying greater attention to ordinances that affect year-round residents (such as construction ordinances). ON HIGH COSTS OF CITY PERSONNEL (INCLUDING POLICE AND FIRE)Ed Price: Said “it’s a mistake to look at workers as a liability. I like to look at them as an asset.”Jay Gillian: Said new fire chief (Chris Breunig) is offering new staffing model to reduce costs and police chief (Chad Callahan) is “doing more with less.” Agrees with Price: “We should stop picking on people.” ON MAINTAINING A HISTORIC DISTRICT IN OCEAN CITYJay Gillian: Suggests better dialogue with owners. “Give them all the tools they need. See what they’re up against.”Ed Price: Says paying attention to Historic District has been like “kissing a baby” or “hugging a veteran” — something to be done only at election time. “We need to decide as a town to support it or get rid of it.” ON WHETHER THE PLANNING BOARD SHOULD REVIEW CITY PROJECTS LIKE THE PROPOSED SKATEBOARD PARKJay Gillian: Yes, but city should wait until “all the facts are in.” The projects “should be well-vetted.”Ed Price: Projects should be vetted not just with the members of the public who use it, but with those who don’t. Price said part of his concept-design-fund-implement strategy in planning a major renovation of the local community center and library was to talk to folks who never used it. “There’s nothing to eat,” many said. That’s how the cafe at the Community Center came to be, he said. CLOSING STATEMENTSJay Gillian: Thanks Price for running an honorable campaign. Says both candidates are good guys who love Ocean City. But there’s a “clear difference”: leadership and experience.Ed Price: Says he does have leadership and experience and says there is a clear difference: “I look at things much more long-term. I pay more attention to rules and regulations.” ON A POTENTIALLY BROKEN PROMISE FROM COMCAST TO MAINTAIN AN OCEAN CITY OFFICEJay Gillian: “Comcast is a monster.”Ed Price: “They are a monster.” ON WHY CANDIDATE IS RUNNING FOR OFFICEJay Gillian: Wants to continue work of last four years.Ed Price: Doesn’t think enough has been done in last four years. OPENING STATEMENTSEd Price: Outlined a list of his roles in public service and said it “shows my commitment to Ocean City.”Jay Gillian: Said people told him before he was elected, “Infrastructure … infrastructure,” and he noted his administration’s investments in roads, beaches, boardwalk, downtown and other areas. ON UTILITIES TEARING UP ROADSJay Gillian: “It’s enforcement.”Ed Price: Agrees “it’s enforcement.” Suggests a smartphone app to report problems. ON INCREASING PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE BAYJay Gillian: Talked of need to balance private property rights with public access. Said the city will continue to look for opportunities to make purchases to increase access.Ed Price: Said the Bayside Center (500 block of Bay Avenue) is “kind of an embarrassment” and an under-utilized asset. Also said he was disappointed to see the public property on the bay at Second Street never get off the ground in terms of public usage. ON OCEAN CITY’S FLOODING AND DRAINAGE PROBLEMSEd Price: Happy that Merion Park improvements are underway, but attributed the multi-million-dollar project not to the city but to a citizen advocate (Westminster Lane resident Marty Mozzo). “We should change the name from Merion Park to Mozzo Park.”Jay Gillian: “We’ve done it. We’ve identified it. We have a plan and we’ve been doing it.” Gillian pointed to dramatically increased investments including pumping stations. ON AN UNFULFILLED PROPOSAL TO CREATE FREE CITYWIDE WIFI ACCESSJay Gillian: Addresses improved WiFi access for paid carriers.Ed Price: Said Ocean City missed a “golden opportunity” about nine years ago when the city had a plan mapped out but bowed to pressure from Comcast. Said regulations are much stricter now, but suggested that perhaps the downtown or boardwalk districts could operate free WiFi on a smaller scale. ON VISION FOR OCEAN CITY IN NEXT 10 TO 20 YEARSEd Price: Sees the Ocean City version of “a chicken in every pot”: wide beaches, dredged bays, smooth boardwalk — serving America’s Greatest Family Resort.Jay Gillian: Sees the Ocean City version of “a chicken in every pot”: wide beaches, dredged bays, smooth boardwalk — serving America’s Greatest Family Resort. ON INCREASING WINTER ACTIVITIES TO HELP THE DOWNTOWN SHOPPING DISTRICTJay Gillian: Said it has to be a partnership between the merchants, the Chamber of Commerce and the city. “The city makes it clean, safe and accessible.”Ed Price: Proposes a “shop local” program that would include a card that would apply discounts to shoppers’ property tax bills. Also would like to see more invested in promoting Ocean City as a year-round community and not just a tourist destination.last_img read more

Senators queries prompt NIH and NSF to clarify how they monitor foreign

first_img Responding to the rising concern within Congress that foreign governments are taking advantage of the open U.S. research enterprise, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have recently tweaked their grantmaking process to better monitor the foreign ties of the researchers they fund. And although there are subtle differences in how the two agencies are approaching the task, the goal is the same: to collect more information about the foreign affiliations of grantees. When it comes to policing suspicious relationships, however, neither agency sits in the driver’s seat.Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA), chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, has been leading a chorus of lawmakers who believe the large number of foreign-born scientists working in the United States—in particular those from China—pose a potential threat to the nation’s research enterprise. And they worry that U.S. universities and government agencies have been slow to respond. A longtime watchdog of federal spending practices, Grassley in recent months has sent nearly identical letters to NIH, NSF, and the Department of Defense (DOD) asking each agency about its practices in rooting out any illegal behavior.Last week, NSF replied to a letter Grassley sent on 15 April. NIH responded at the end of 2018 to a query sent in October 2018, and DOD has yet to reply to a letter it received on 1 April. Stefani Reynolds/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA) wants U.S. research agencies to pay more attention to foreign collaborations. In their responses, NIH and NSF essentially duck both questions. NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, says the cost of monitoring its rules on foreign affiliations can’t be separated from its broader effort to ensure that grantees are complying with all of the agency’s rules. NSF in Alexandria, Virginia, says it works hand in glove with its Office of Inspector General (OIG), which conducts regular audits. NSF’s letter says OIG will reply separately to six of Grassley’s eight queries, noting “the sensitivity of ongoing investigations.”Both agencies note that their inspectors general (which in the case of NIH is part of its parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services) handle any cases in which there is reason to suspect that something is amiss. NIH also points out that some investigations are carried out by the U.S. Department of Justice.Confusion over practicesThe agencies were able to answer some of Grassley’s questions. And their answers highlight the senator’s apparent unfamiliarity with how research agencies perform their duties and interact with the academic community.For example, his first question asks each agency “to describe in detail [how] it conducts background checks of research and institutions” before awarding them a grant. The assumption is that an eagle-eyed program manager should be able to spot a nefarious researcher intent on, say, stealing a patented technology or otherwise depriving Americans of the fruits of taxpayer-funded research.The reality is that NIH and NSF do not perform such background checks. Instead of doing the vetting that legislators apparently think is going on, the agencies demand that grantee institutions certify the researcher is able to perform the work being funded. Institutions can certify that only if they have themselves met all the requirements that come with receiving a federal research grant.“[G]rantee institutions are responsible for the personnel designated on their awards, not NIH,” Lawrence Tabak, NIH’s principal deputy director, explained in the agency’s reply to Grassley. “NIH determines if grant applicants are eligible to receive grant awards but does not conduct background checks.”Institutions also don’t pry into a scientist’s background when certifying to funding agencies that the researcher can do the proposed work. And they certainly don’t ask why, say, a Chinese, Iranian, or Russian graduate student or postdoctoral researcher wants to come to the United States or—to get to the heart of Grassley’s worries—whether their government has asked them to spy on the U.S. research enterprise.With respect to foreign scientists working in the United States, university administrators assume that anyone awarded the proper visa by the U.S. Department of State has a right to be in the country and participate in the research that has been funded. Any projects dealing with sensitive topics or involving technologies with military and national security implications are already subject to greater scrutiny, including the requirement in some cases that the researchers are U.S. citizens.Reminders from NIHGrassley’s letter did elicit some information about how the agencies have tightened up their procedures.NIH’s letter notes, for example, that last year it “reminded its grantee institutions about their responsibilities.” That reminder included notifying NIH if a researcher on a grant “was no longer qualified or competent to perform the research objectives.” That is bureaucratic shorthand for an institution finding someone guilty of scientific misconduct or, worse, having the person face civil or criminal charges stemming from their actions as an NIH-funded researcher.One bone of contention for university research administrators trying to follow the rules is how to interpret NIH’s requirement that applicants disclose all “foreign components” of their research. A scientist who spends a week lecturing at a foreign university, for example, might not disclose that trip on their grant application. But if the host university labels them a visiting scientist in promoting their talks, then NIH might wonder whether there is a financial aspect to that relationship.What’s even more likely to raise eyebrows is a foreign scientist who spends 9 months in the United States working in the lab of a U.S. colleague with an NIH grant and then appears as a co-author on a paper published by the U.S. scientist. The visiting scientist is typically seen as a “free” pair of hands by the U.S. scientist because their government foots the bill. But to NIH, the foreign scientist’s name on a publication could suggest that an NIH grantee has failed to disclose a foreign component in their grant application or annual progress report.New boxes at NSFNSF used its response to Grassley to publicize changes it is making in the paperwork that accompanies every grant application and subsequent monitoring of the researcher it has funded.“NSF is currently in the process of developing a clear, standardized, web-based disclosure form for researchers to list all sources of current and pending support,” explains the letter, signed by Fleming Crim, NSF’s chief operating officer. This change, Crim writes, “will provide NSF with the ability to better manage this data and ensure compliance with the disclosure requirements for all proposals submitted to the agency.”One change NSF has already made is asking all grant applicants to check a box if their proposal requests funding for a foreign organization or an international branch campus of a U.S.-based institution. Anyone who checks the box must then explain why the research cannot be done at the U.S. institution and what the foreign collaborator brings to the table. NSF officials say that program managers and reviewers may have asked such questions in the past but that the checkbox increases the chances that the issue will be addressed during the review process.NSF’s grants policy manual already requires investigators to list non-NSF projects to which they have allocated some of their time. That clause is not explicitly designed to flag foreign activities, however, nor would it cover things that did not warrant a designated fraction of the faculty member’s work week. “We are currently working toward further clarification of that long-standing requirement,” says Amanda Greenwell, head of NSF’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs.It is unlikely that the responses from NIH and NSF will end Grassley’s inquiries. In January, he stated that NIH’s letter “left many of my initial questions unanswered” and that he “will continue seeking answers on these and other important questions.” His office is still waiting to hear from DOD, a spokesperson noted. Meanwhile, Allison Lerner, NSF’s inspector general, hasn’t been given a deadline to submit her answers to the six questions she’s been tasked with addressing. But she is expected to move quickly, in line with NSF’s promise to Grassley that “we must take all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure the integrity of federally funded research.” By Jeffrey MervisMay. 2, 2019 , 11:45 AM Limited informationEach letter contains questions that address Grassley’s fears that the agencies aren’t doing enough. For example, he asks how much they are spending “to identify and investigate potential violations of the rules concerning foreign affiliations and financial” support for an investigator’s research. He also wants to know the number of institutions “currently under investigation [by the agency] for employing individuals who failed to disclose contributions from foreign governments.” Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Senator’s queries prompt NIH and NSF to clarify how they monitor foreign research tieslast_img read more