About Dinah Winnick

Communications Manager for Social Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Please use caution on campus walkways during salt shortage

Dear UMBC Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope you have been safe and warm during this latest storm.

Due to an unusual number of storms this year, the mid-Atlantic region is experiencing a severe and widespread salt shortage. I am writing to share the challenging news that the State Highway Administration (SHA) has closed down salt distribution due to lack of supply, which means UMBC will not be able to replenish our supply to our regular levels.*

In preparation for our return to normal operations tomorrow, grounds staff and contractors are hard at work clearing walkways. However, due to a shortage of both road salt and calcium for walkways, and the need to conserve these materials during the de-icing process, they will likely not be able to fully clear the pavement across campus.

We anticipate patches of snow and icy areas sporadically across the campus. Please do your best to come prepared for winter conditions, and please take great care as you navigate campus in the morning. If you encounter an area that is in particular need of clearing, please contact 410-455-2550 or workorder@umbc.edu.

The SHA has indicated they hope to receive a salt shipment on Thursday, which we hope will enable us to replenish our supply. Until then, we ask for your patience and caution.

Thank you,
Lynne Schaefer
Vice President for Finance and Administration

*Update (3/14/2014): UMBC has received questions today about its relationship to the State Highway Administration regarding salt distribution, and therefore is providing more detailed information for better clarity, and to acknowledge the supportive partnership we have with SHA.

Each year, UMBC purchases its salt through a statewide contract. The State Highway Administration has generously agreed to store that salt in its facilities and to distribute it to UMBC as needed. This is a great benefit to UMBC because it means the campus doesn’t need to build its own storage facility.

Due to the significant number of extreme weather events this winter, UMBC has exhausted the salt it purchased and stored at the SHA facility. UMBC has ordered additional salt, but due to shortages across the country, it has not arrived.

As our grounds staff prepared for Sunday and Monday’s weather event, we requested a loan of salt from the State Highway Administration supply. In the past, when salt has been available, the SHA has been able to make such loans. However, it was not able to provide additional salt on Monday due to a lack of supply. The State Highway Administration was able to provide us a loan of 15 tons of salt from its supply today, March 4.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, Writes Washington Post Op-Ed

ManilSuriHeadShotIn a Washington Post op-ed titled, “Court ruling ignores India’s rich heritage of diversity,” UMBC mathematics professor Manil Suri critically examines the Indian Supreme Court’s recent decision to reinstate a 19th-century law criminalizing homosexual acts (Section 377), a law which had been repealed by a lower-court decision in 2009.

In his analysis, Suri draws attention to how the ruling “criticized previous judges for relying too much on foreign precedents in their ‘anxiety to protect the so-called rights of LGBT persons.'”

Suri argues that the foreign imposition in this case is actually the statute itself. He notes: “The statute was passed in 1860 as part of Britain’s colonization of India. Other former British colonies, from Malaysia to Jamaica, have the same law on their books, also labeled Section 377.” He concludes, “India needs to be reminded of its rich heritage of diversity, its historically liberal attitude toward variations in human behavior.”

You can read Suri’s full op-ed here.

Hilltop Presents on ACA’s Impact on Small Business

Hilltop Senior Regulatory and Policy AdvisorMaansi Raswant, Maansi Raswant, JD, gave a presentation titled The Affordable Care Act’s Impact on Small Business to the Catonsville Chamber of Commerce on October 30, 2013 at the Charlestown Retirement Community.

In the presentation, Raswant gave an overview of the basic provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and described health reform implementation in Maryland; described the ACA mandates for coverage (who needs to have it and who needs to provide it); and discussed how to determine whether an employer is considered a large or small employer, how to purchase coverage through exchanges, new benefits of and requirements for health plans, and how tax credits will be allotted. Access the full presentation here.

Raswant is a member of Hilltop’s Health Reform team, which provides essential support to Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange as it implements health reform. For more information, go to www.hilltopinsitute.org/hrr.cfm.

Roy Meyers, Political Science, on PolitiFact

Roy Meyers (UMBC)In an October 1st tweet, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz suggested the current federal government shutdown will result in “$10 billion in costs to the economy per week.” Is that accurate? PolitiFact consulted with UMBC political science professor Roy T. Meyers to find out.

The $10 billion figure Wasserman Schultz quotes is from the White House, which itself acquired the estimate from an August report from Goldman Sachs. To check this figure, PolitiFact went back to Meyers’ analysis of the 1995-96 government shutdown, which was estimated to cost $1.4 billion (mainly in back pay to furloughed workers). However, Meyers shares, you can’t simply add inflation to that figure to come up with an estimate for today, because of differences between the current shutdown and the previous one.

“This one is going to be bigger in terms of daily costs…,” Meyers told PolitiFact. “The economy is weaker. It can’t handle as much of a shock as it could handle in ‘95-’96.”

PolitiFact concluded that Wasserman Schultz’s statement was “mostly true.” Read their full analysis online. Meyers also contributed to PolitiFact’s analysis of Newt Gingrich’s recent statement that shutdowns are “a normal part of the constitutional process.”

Thomas Schaller, Political Science, Op-ed in The Baltimore Sun

Tom Schaller“The federal government has shut down,” reads a new Baltimore Sun op-ed by political science professor Thomas F. Schaller. “And it’s the Republicans’ fault — period.” In contesting the House Republican’s use of legislation funding the federal government to block or alter the Affordable Care Act and its implementation, Schaller notes:

The Constitution clearly establishes that a bill becomes a law if it passes both chambers of Congress and is signed by the president or if his veto is overridden by two-thirds supermajorities in both chambers. In 2010, Democrats in Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed, the Affordable Care Act. […] The Constitution’s legislative process remains available to those who want to repeal it, of course. If unable to do so now, they can try to win elections and push to replace the law at some future point.

Schaller suggests members of the U.S. House of Representative who identify with the Tea Party have rejected this process. Read the full op-ed at the Baltimore Sun.

Roy Meyers, Political Science, in The Hill, Washington Post, Le Monde, on NBC News and More

Roy Meyers (UMBC)The threat of a government shutdown has become a reality and political science professor Roy Meyers is again in the news describing the direct and indirect costs of this action.

NBC News shared Meyers’ finding that the 1995-65 closure of national parks, monuments and battlefields alone cost businesses and local governments $295 million by preventing seven million park visits.

In MSNBC coverage of the shutdown, Meyers shared the importance of not just accounting for all of those costs, but also for those that are less measurable. “The real costs are really not in terms of consumer confidence or any of the standard measures in macroeconomics or even the federal budget,” he said. “The real costs are in trust in government and belief that government officials are paying attention to the real issues of the country.”

Read these articles to learn more:

Washington Post: Day One of the government shutdown: Now what?
Le Monde: Quel sera le coût du blocage budgétaire américain
Pew: How much might a government shutdown cost? Plenty, history says
The Hill: Small percentage of lawmakers served during 1990s government shutdown
NBC News: Why a government shutdown could be a pricey proposition
MSNBC: Taxpayers pick up bill if government shuts down
Politifact: Ted Cruz says ‘a strong bipartisan majority’ in the House of Representatives ‘voted to defund Obamacare’

Update: Meyers has also written a blog post for the London School of Economics on the shutdown: “Congress should be a venue for deliberation and compromise over policy, but the shutdown shows that Washington’s budget process is broken.”