$137 Million Train Project In Puerto Rico

A major new infrastructure project

Governor Alejandro García Padilla announced that his administration is set to begin the first phase of the train route between San Juan and Caguas.

The Novotren project will create a light rail commuter link on the 17-mile stretch between San Juan and Caguas.

The $137 million project will also entail the construction of toll lanes such as the stretch between Toa Baja and San Juan and the bridges over which the train will eventually run.

Padilla Garcia said he was committed to the creation of public-private partnerships in major construction projects, with an emphasis on the involvement of local companies.

“Investing in public infrastructure is an immediate injection to revive the economy, create jobs and prepare the country for the transformation of the global economy,” he said. “This is why it becomes latent need to develop public-private partnerships to achieve the desired development amid fiscal situation we are facing great opportunities.

By Dana Niland
CJ Contributor

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Bill Clinton, “New Democrats” and Their Approach to Racial Politics

ill Clinton says that he “almost” wants to apologize for his remarkable episode yesterday — you know, when he embraced long-debunked, racially coded “super-predator” rhetoric, compared Black Lives Matter protestors to Republicans and insisted that they support murderers, and blamed his crime bill on black politicians. Personally, I am not demanding an apology from Bill Clinton. Instead, I would like to say thank you. Thank you, Bill, for giving the nation a ten-minute tutorial on everything that was wrong (and apparently remains wrong) with the “New Democrats” and their approach to racial politics.

Unfortunately much of the mainstream media seems to be buying (yet again) much of what Bill was selling yesterday. So to recap what should be obvious by now: Black politicians and activists were not asking for “get tough” measures and nothing else back in the 1990s. Some black politicians opposed the Clinton crime bill, and those who supported it weren’t seeking punishment and nothing more; they desperately wanted massive investment in jobs and schools so the young people trapped in communities where work had suddenly disappeared would have some hope of survival. It is a gross distortion to suggest that black people wanted billions of dollars slashed from child welfare, housing and other public benefits in order to fund an unprecedented prison building boom. It was Bill Clinton’s deliberate political strategy — one he championed along with the “New Democrats” — to appeal to white swing voters by being tougher on struggling black communities than the Republicans had been, ramping up the drug war and gutting welfare. That strategy of “getting tough” while at the same time eviscerating the federal social safety net was NOT supported by many of the black politicians he seeks to use as cover. Rep. John Lewis (who Clinton referred to yesterday as the “last remaining hero of the civil rights movement”) fiercely opposed welfare reform, accurately predicting that it would thrust more than a million more kids into severe poverty.

John Lewis said back then: “How can any person of faith, of conscience, vote for a bill that puts a million more kids into poverty? What does it profit a great nation to conquer the world, only to lose its soul?”

The young people challenging Bill Clinton yesterday were asking these very same questions. You may not agree with their tactics, but they were, in their own way, fighting for the soul of the Democratic party and American democracy itself. Whether our nation can be redeemed in the long run remains to be seen.

Michelle Alexander, Michelle Alexander’s Facebook Page

Danny Willett leads strong showing by Englishmen at the Masters

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) – Well done, Englishmen.   Sheffield’s Danny Willett on Sunday joined three-time winner Nick Faldo as the only Englishmen to capture a Masters championship.

Danny Willett has become the first British golfer to win the US Masters for 20 years after Jordan Spieth imploded in the final round at Augusta. The 22 year old defending champion led by 5 shots as he approached the 10th hole but then dropped 6 shots in 3 holes allowing Willett to take advantage as he carded a superb 5 under par 67 final round to win by 3 shots from fellow Englishman Lee Westwood. Spieth eventually finished on 1 under alongside a cluster of players including Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson. Afterwards,Willett said that the victory had been “crazy”.

Staples Advantage Gets Personal with Procurement Customers

Accenture Interactive (part of Accenture Digital and SAP hybris) recently released results of a new global study of business-to-business buyers and sellers conducted by Forrester Consulting. The study, Mastering Omni-Channel B2B Customer Engagement, finds that business buyers’ expectations for personalization and excellent support–regardless of channel, device, or stage in the journey–are rapidly evolving, influenced by their experiences as consumers.

In fact, more than half of buyers say they would like suppliers to offer personalized recommendations across interactions. The study also finds that most B2B companies are not set up to deliver a seamless omni-channel experience, citing “difficulty sharing customer data between channels or locations” as the top barrier.

To learn more about this study and what it may mean for My Purchasing Center readers, we talked to Gillan Hawkes, Director Ecommerce Product Management for Staples Advantage. Here are her responses to our questions:

Gillan Hawkes_Headshot.jpgTo start, please provide My Purchasing Center readers with a brief description of some of the key findings of the Forrester Research study, “Building the B2B Omni-Channel Commerce Platform of the Future.” 

The Forrester study examines how the expectations of B2B buyers are transforming the way suppliers sell and deliver products and services. The study yielded several interesting findings, particularly, that high customer expectations have led B2B firms to raise the bar for their omni-channel experiences. Business buyers are familiar with the user-friendly buying experiences delivered by consumer e-commerce and vendor websites, and they now expect the same level of omni-channel service from their suppliers for business purchases.

Another noteworthy finding is that providing a seamless omni-channel experience helps solidify customer loyalty. Since consumer e-commerce portals have treated customers to such personalized and easy buying experiences, expectations have risen. B2B organizations that meet these high expectations can ensure the loyalty of their customer base.

Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, is hyper focused on delivering an omni-channel experience to its business users and one of the few e-commerce websites purpose-built for them.

What types of goods and services is this study addressing? What types of buyers? (Just 28% of study participants identify themselves as being affiliated with their company’s procurement department.)

In this study, Forrester surveyed 526 B2B companies and 930 B2B buyers across Canada, France, Germany, the U.S. and the UK at organizations with more than 1,000 employees. It is our understanding from the report that the study did not address a particular industry, so there is not a slant toward particular types of goods and services. However, based on our experience serving businesses of all sizes across all industries, we can confidently say, no matter who the buyer is, ease of shopping is a top priority for everyone. For example, depending on the size of the organization, the buyer could be a procurement officer, an administrative professional or a facility manager. While their role and title might differ, they all value a more personalized experience that is tailored to their organization.

As you know, our readers are procurement and supply management leaders at Fortune 500 companies. They have sourcing strategies and buying systems in place for key categories such as office products, technology, facilities, furniture, etc. What does this study mean for them? What should they take away from it? 

The key takeaway for us from this study is that while business buyers and consumers are inherently different in their purchasing patterns, the truth is that they have similar expectations when it comes to online shopping experience. We recommend business users partner with suppliers that can help them source a vast array of products efficiently.

What measures is Staples Advantage taking to get to know its B2B (procurement) customers better? 

At Staples Advantage, we pay close attention to emulating the B2C omni-channel experience for our B2B customers.

Staples Advantage is creating a convenient and consistent buying experience for B2B customers, as their needs and buying behavior change. We leverage B2B customer data to personalize interactions through our site features, such as the StaplesAdvantage.com Dashboard – which shows customers’ “need-to-know” information, including recent orders, order status, shopping lists and products that may need to be reordered. Re-order status is based on the frequency that the user purchases the product, determining when particular items may be running low and need to be restocked.

The study implies that companies like Staples Advantage are better prepared to meet the needs of the study’s participants than pure Internet retailers. Will you comment on this? 

According to the Forrester study, nearly half of B2B buyers now make work-related purchases on websites and mobiles apps they also use for their personal shopping. As we mentioned earlier, Staples Advantage is in a unique position to provide a similar shopping experience to business users that they have come to expect when shopping for personal use. For example, with Staples Advantage, customers can order online or from the Staples Advantage mobile app for a quick pick-up in store at the agreed-upon, prices stipulated in their contracts. Staples Advantage is an e-commerce website built for business users, making the shopping experience easy and personalized without added costs.

What are the consequences of a company serving the B2B market not reacting to the results of this study?

The B2B firms surveyed are investing in omni-channel capabilities to drive additional efficiencies and customer engagement.

Companies that fail to maximize today’s variety of digital channels or leverage buyer data for increasingly personalized interactions run the risk of delivering a disjointed, unsatisfying customer experience. It’s a matter of keeping pace or lagging behind competitors and subsequently surrendering the customer loyalty to a player who is more in tune with these market needs.

What is Staples Advantage’s omni-channel plan? Is Staples Advantage borrowing ideas from the consumer side of the business? Which ones? In practice, how would you say Staples Advantage is meeting customer expectations outlined in the study–enhanced fulfillment capabilities, inventory visibility and superior customer experience?

Omni-channel is no longer a buzzword for B2B buyers. It’s a must. Staples Advantage is creating a cohesive experience for customers across all purchasing channels – in-store, online and via the company’s mobile app.

The mobile app not only provides on-the-go ordering, but also enables customers to use their smartphone to scan the barcode on needed items. Now with the app, they don’t have to leave the supply room to order. This decreases the amount of time it takes to order supplies. In addition, if a customer has approvals required, approvals can be done real time without holding anyone or anything up.

Staples Advantage introduced new tools such as Visual Search, which is especially beneficial for more visual categories like interiors and furniture. Staples Advantage is the first major e-commerce site to offer the functionality.

By selecting product images to initiate a search, customers can find visually similar products to those desired, and quickly narrow search results to those that are similar in terms of color, shape and texture. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words” – and office products are no exception, as it’s hard to adequately describe some products through text alone.

We find particularly interesting the finding that 69% of study participants prefer to use “direct instant forms of payment.” We’re hearing that companies in the U.S. are slow to switch from their use of other forms of payment (like paper checks). Perhaps this will help speed up that transition?

Staples Advantage offers multiple ways for consumers to shop and pay for their orders. As more and more companies begin to understand the importance of catering to their consumers’ unique needs, we wouldn’t be surprised if more companies presented a variety of ways to shop and purchase.

Another interesting point is that study participants would like to be able to leverage reporting and analytics to measure effectiveness. Reporting and analytics are also important tools used by strategic sourcing teams to monitor supplier performance, manage total cost, prepare for negotiations with suppliers, etc. Please comment on this. 

Staples Advantage provides a personalized experience, with recommendations tailored to customers’ organizational needs, helping them discover other products they may need, with a simplified check-out process. In addition, customers can see what supplies they may be running low on and need to reorder based on their order frequency history. With an emphasis on streamlining the customer experience online, browsing is now easier than ever with consolidated categories and the ability to browse by industry. Users can also view recently purchased items and a revamped deals section that highlights the best savings opportunities for their organization.

In addition, Staples help to manage total costs by eliminating rogue spend for customers. Today’s customers shop in a variety of ways – in-store, online and on their mobile devices. We have optimized StaplesAdvantage.com for tablets and have a mobile app for smartphone devices to ensure businesses can easily shop wherever and whenever is convenient for them. Because Staples Advantage provides additional ways for customers to shop, there is always a way to shop with Staples Advantage within their negotiated contract price.

Going forward, do you have suggestions for our readers on what they should be thinking about/planning for (regarding implications of this study)?

Whether it’s an easy checkout process or adding multiple products to the shopping cart at a time, businesses should look to provide a seamless shopping experience to customers. Whether its viewing recently purchased items, quick order or an easy checkout process, companies should strive to provide a seamless shopping experience.

– See more at: http://www.mypurchasingcenter.com/office-products/articles/staples-advantage-gets-personal-procurement-customers/#sthash.JAXSw6xA.dpuf

Is Hillary Qualified? Is Bernie Qualified? Who Decides?

o what happens if a campaign tries “disqualification” as a tactic?

Hillary Clinton and the Clinton campaign hinted and hinted and hinted that Bernie Sanders is not qualified to be president, but they may never have actually said it. No matter. Some news media believed them, took the hints for facts, and reported that Hillary said Bernie was not qualified. In response, Bernie openly and loudly said Hillary is not qualified to be president. New York media predators had a grand time chewing on all this raw meat. And that was just last week.

The week began predictably enough with Bernie Sanders winning the Wisconsin Democratic primary on April 5 by 13 points, still leaving Hillary Clinton with a lead of 250 in pledged delegates. The only county she won in Wisconsin was Milwaukee, a Republican stronghold and Scott Walker’s base. But the overall reality of the race for the Democratic nomination for president hadn’t changed much: Clinton would go on to win unless Sanders could score a series of strong victories in the remaining states, especially in New York, Pennsylvania, and California.

As the “home state” for Sanders by birth and Clinton by current residence, New York’s April 19 primary is critical for both candidates. Neither can easily afford to lose New York. Sanders must win just to maintain his long odds of eventual success. But Clinton must win or risk a calamitous domino effect as a result of being rejected by the state that elected her senator in 2000 and 2006, and chose her over Barack Obama in 2008.

New York Times just makes it up to help Hillary

On April 6, the day after Wisconsin, media weirdness surfaced in a page one story in The New York Times. After reporting that Ted Cruz has “soundly defeated” Donald Trump, the story went on to this inexcusably false and biased second paragraph:

On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in a much closer contest.

Really, N.Y. Times? Bernie won by a 13.5 point margin, Cruz by 13.1. Bernie won with 567,936 votes, Cruz with 531,129 votes. Bernie’s margin of victory was 135,169 votes, Cruz won by 145,759 votes. It’s one thing for the Times to let its bias show by minimizing Hillary’s loss, albeit that’s sleazy. It’s just dishonest (can you believe it was a mistake?) to write a flatly false report. No wonder the print version has been scrubbed online.

That same day, April 6, a media meme started gaining traction: that Bernie had botched an April 1 interview with the clearly-hostile editorial board of the New York Daily News, one of America’s grand old sleazy, money-losing tabloids, owned by billionaire Morton Zuckerman, a longtime Democrat and supporter of Israel, who also owns and edits U.S. News & World Report. The Daily News published the interview transcript on April 4. The Clinton campaign emailed the transcript to its supporters and others on April 5. CNN reported: “The campaign’s deputy communications director, Christina Reynolds, argued that Sanders is unqualified, sending a full transcript of a New York Daily News editorial board interview of Sanders.” The media pile-on was swift, merciless, and shallow, as led by the Washington Post, another billionaire-owned paper with inherent conflict of interest.

Hillary campaign dictates, New York media uncritically repeat

One of the loudest criticisms was taken directly from the Hillary campaign’s Reynolds, who wrote: “even on his signature issue of breaking up the banks, he’s unable to answer basic questions about how he’d go about doing it….” Multiple reporters duly parroted that Sanders didn’t know for sure if the Fed had that power now, or would need new legislation. The Fed has the power now, according to Hillary. So which is more important, Sanders opposing banks that extort favors from the government by being “too big to fail” – or Sanders not knowing the mechanics to implement his proposal, which any competent presidential advisor could tell him? In other words, the Daily News and the mostly mindless media herd went for the gotcha question, rather than any Sanders principles, from the same interview:

Let me be very clear, all right? I believe that we can and should move to what Pope Francis calls a moral economy.

Then there’s the “qualification” issue, which also emanated from the Clinton campaign, after which much of the media went after Bernie for it. The question of who is qualified to be president is settled first by the Constitution, then by voters. The Constitution, Article II, requires that a president be a natural born citizen, be 35 years old or more, and have lived in the U.S. for 14 years. That’s it. The vast majority of Americans are constitutionally qualified to be president. The rest is argument and perception. And substance.

The Hillary campaign moved cleverly on the qualification issue, not only raising it through the Daily News transcript, but also raising it as a question of Democratic Party loyalty. As CNN reported it on April 6: “Hillary Clinton’s campaign is taking new steps to try and disqualify Bernie Sanders in the eyes of Democratic voters….” In a Politico story headlined “Hillary Clinton has had enough of Bernie Sanders,” at the end of a long interview, Hillary responds with sly evisceration to a question about Bernie being a Democrat:

… he’s a relatively new Democrat, and, in fact, I’m not even sure he is one. He’s running as one. So I don’t know quite how to characterize him. I’ll leave that to him. But I know there’s a big difference between Democrats and Republicans, and I know that Senator Sanders spends a lot of time attacking my husband, attacking President Obama, you know, calling President Obama weak and disappointing, and actually making a move in 2012 to recruit somebody to run a primary against him. I rarely hear him say anything negative about George W. Bush, who I think wrecked our economy, just not to put too fine a point on it.

Hillary also found time on April 6 to imply that Bernie was indirectly responsible for the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook. The NRA gives Bernie a D-minus rating.

Hillary smiles and nods and affirms the calumny without saying it

Another key part of Hillary’s media attack was her appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on April 6, where host Joe Scarborough asked Hillary no hard questions. Instead, for whatever reason, Scarborough pursued the Hillary-inspired trope of whether Sanders is qualified to be president: “… do you believe this morning that Bernie Sanders is qualified and ready to be president of the United States?” Hillary ducked the question, slyly saying, “I think the [Daily News] interview raised a lot of really serious questions….” She did not add that that was why her campaign circulated the interview, while raising the qualifications question.

Twice more Scarborough asked a version of the same question, and each time Clinton evaded a direct answer. In effect she validated the question by letting it go unchallenged. She never came close to saying it was a bogus question in constitutional terms, but that politically it seemed to be playing pretty well. And it gives lazy reporters the chance to say Hillary never said it (as at The Wall Street Journal), without facing the reality that she gave it credibility by treating is as a reasonable question.

Subtlety is scorned by popular journalism, which means that accuracy takes a beating sometimes, too. Reporting on Hillary’s tease on Morning Joe, the Washington Post story began: “Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Wednesday questioned whether her rival in the Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), is qualified to be president.” That’s not true, but it’s true enough. And the Post doubled down on the deceit with this headline:

“Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president”

At a rally in Philadelphia on the night of April 6, Bernie responded to the attacks of the day, including the question of his being qualified. His response makes it seem clear that he believed that Hillary’s attack was as the Post had represented it. Bernie said, referring to Hillary:

She has been saying lately that she thinks that I am not qualified to be president. Well, let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don’t believe that she is qualified, if she is, through her super-PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds.

I don’t think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super-PAC.

I don’t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq.

I don’t think you are qualified if you have supported virtually every disastrous trade agreement which has cost us millions of decent paying jobs.

I don’t think you are qualified if you’ve supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed and, which as all of you know, has allowed corporations and wealthy all over the world people to avoid paying their taxes to their countries.

Even though Bernie was responding to a claim Hillary had only implied (apparently), his response was strong and direct. Each of his qualifications is substantive and is rooted in the reality of actions Hillary has actually taken. Bernie’s challenge is cogent, precise, and substantive, unlike Hillary’s clever comments about Bernie not doing his homework or not knowing the easily-discovered details of Dodd-Frank. Bernie defended his attack as a defense against what Hillary threw at him. For a moment it looked like the Democratic primary was about to turn into a blood-letting to the last candidate standing.

The showdown that became a letdown, but the substance remains

The race is closing, the question is how fast. In May 2015, Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders in one poll by 40 points in New York state. In February 2016 her lead was still over 20 points. Current polling shows her with a 10-12 point lead in New York. (She leads by 6-18 points in Pennsylvania, down from 27 in late March, and by 6-14 in California, down from 40 a year ago, with lower numbers in post-Wisconsin polling.) With this trend, it’s no surprise the Hillary campaign tried a tactic to eliminate Bernie. It may have come as a surprise that Bernie responded with such force and directness. Hillary’s gambit may have been spinning out of control.

Scott Walker tweeted: “For once I agree with Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be President.”

Then Bill Clinton came to the rescue by hectoring Black Lives Matter activists as if they were just Sister Souljahs. And he revealed a curious version of democracy, not unlike Hillary’s response to other Black Lives Matter activists: “When somebody wont hush and listen to you, that ain’t democracy. They’re afraid of the truth….”

Paul Krugman of the Times came to the rescue with a squealy column worthy of the Daily News, in which he ignores conflict of interest and dismisses Bernie’s critique of Hillary’s qualifications as a “rant” and points to non-specific, ad hominem “petulant self-righteousness.”

And the Pope came to the rescue with an invitation to Bernie to speak to a Vatican conference about the “moral economy.” Bernie’s trip to Rome will follow the April 14 debate between him and Hillary, but ahead of the April 19 primary, an unorthodox and unpredictable hiatus in a typical campaign.

For all the week’s sturm und drang, on Friday morning, April 8, it all suddenly de-escalated as Hillary assured Bernie he was qualified to be president, and Bernie assured Hillary she was qualified to be president. They both agree that either would be better than any Republican. All that looks and sounds like party unity. So is Bernie now a Democrat? Are we closer to serious argument over substance?

 


William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

William Boardman, Reader Supported News

IceCaps Too Much for Comets

Six different skaters for the St. John’s IceCaps scored as the Utica Comets fell by the score of 7-1 on Sunday afternoon at the Mile One Centre.

Curtis Valk (1-0-1) was the only Comets player to beat IceCaps’ goaltender Zachary Fucale. Richard Bachman made 32 saves including a behind-the-back glove save that will grace highlight reels for ages in the loss.

The Comets found themselves quickly behind the eight ball as the IceCaps scored twice in the game’s opening five minutes, in part thanks to some sloppy play from the Comets.

Jordan Subban mishandled a pass from Richard Bachman and coughed up the puck to Gabriel Dumont. Dumont slipped the puck across the slot to Jacob de la Rose who quickly wired a one-time slapshot past Bachman’s glove.

A little over three minutes later the IceCaps again capitalized on a Comets miscue when Morgan Ellis and Bud Holloway turned a missed Comets drop pass in the IceCaps defensive zone into an odd-man rush the other way. After John Negrin overskated Alex Friesen’s drop pass, Holloway streaked the length of the ice and left a drop pass of his own for Morgan Ellis. The hero from last night’s overtime victory over the Comets, took four strides into a slapshot that found its way through Bachman to put the Comets in a 2-0 hole.

Michael McCarron with a breakaway goal after he was sprung free with a pass from Holloway as he stepped out of the penalty box.

The second period started with more of the same bad news for the Comets as the IceCaps scored twice in the period’s opening 2:38. Tim Bozon’s wrist shot from the slot made it 4-0, and then Nikita Scherbak’s tally 1:14 later extended the IceCaps’ lead to 5-0.

7:39 into the second period the Comets finally broke through on the scoreboard. From the slot, Curtis Valk wristed a shot into the back of the net, for his second American Hockey League tally, after a perfect feed from Joseph LaBate. Jordan Subban picked up the secondary assist after his breakout pass set the table for the goal.

The IceCaps started the third period just like they started the previous two periods – with a goal in the first two minutes. Charles Hudon pounced on a loose puck and flipped it over Bachman for the 6-1 lead.

Hudon added a second tally in the third period for his 28th goal of the season.

With the loss the Comets record dropped to 36-25-8-4.

The Comets return home for a home-and-home series with the Syracuse Crunch. The Galaxy Cup rivalry weekend kicks off Friday night the Utica Memorial Auditorium at 7pm. The Galaxy Cup series is tied at eight points apiece.