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Ballots sent out to some Westmoreland voters after delay spurred by issues with contractor

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After years of waiting, Larry Franklin was finally ready to cast his first vote for a United States president.

All that was stopping him from doing so was his ballot, which he had expected to receive this week in the mail. On Friday, it had yet to arrive.

Franklin, 67, of Monessen, along with dozens of others, came to the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to cast his vote in person rather than rely on the mail to deliver ballots. Franklin said he wanted to ensure his vote would count ahead of a trip next week to Africa, where he’ll spend the next several months visiting his daughter.

“I don’t know why we don’t have ballots already,” Franklin said.

Franklin’s ballot and nearly 60,000 others were to have been mailed last week. The first batch of ballots was finally sent out to 8,000 voters Friday morning after a weeklong delay, county officials said.

Westmoreland officials blamed the delay on the Ohio-based private company hired to send out mail-in ballots.

“The county’s contracted mailing company, Midwest Direct, has experienced delays due to both increased volume and mechanical issues,” county officials said in a statement.

Officials at Midwest Direct Presort Mailing in Cleveland did not return multiple calls seeking comment.

Because of the delay, Franklin may have to get on the plane next week without voting. County elections officials refused to allow him to vote at the courthouse Friday because his requested ballot was now in the mail.

“Most of my life I was denied to vote, so this is a big deal,” Franklin said. “There’s nothing I can do now. My flight is leaving for Ghana on Oct. 15

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OFCCP Issues Guidance on Government Contractor EO

Quick Hit:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) has issued guidance on President Trump’s September 22, 2020 “Executive Order on Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping” (the “Order”) which restricts the concepts which contractors may include in anti-discrimination and diversity trainings provided to their employees.  Though much of the publication summarizes key provisions of the Order, two key components provide important guidance:  (1) although the Order’s prohibitions will only apply directly to contractors with contracts executed after November 21, 2020, OFCCP warns including the prohibited concepts in trainings may also violate the non-discrimination obligations found in Executive Order 11246 which apply to all federal contractors; and (2) OFCCP does not view the Order as barring all forms of unconscious bias or implicit bias trainings.

Key Takeaways:

Whether or not federal contractors are parties to contracts entered into after November 21, 2020, all contractors need to be aware of the restrictions contained in the Order, particularly given the hotline OFCCP established last week to receive complaints about trainings that violate the Order.  Contractors should also review the Order carefully to understand its precise parameters as they assess whether to enter into new contracts with the federal government.  Contractors may determine that they can continue their existing training programs and comply with the letter of the Order.  For example, as OFCCP has recognized, contractors can continue to provide their unconscious bias and similar trainings, provided they do not teach that a particular race or sex is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.”

Contractors should also be aware that the Order, and OFCCP’s actions in response to it, reflect a growing focus on race discrimination of any kind, as opposed to only discrimination against traditionally disadvantaged groups.  Contractors must be aware that some efforts at

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Contractor issues bid on Cheniere Spillway, bridge project

MONROE, La. (KNOE) – Officials are one step closer in restoring the Cheniere Spillway and bridge.



a bridge over a body of water: KNOE


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The Louisiana Department of Transportation announced a contractor issued a bid on the project for $9.4 million.

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“Because we held the state to their promise, they made a promise to replace it for free, and we held them to them and now we’re getting it replaced where it won’t cost Ouachita Parish a dime,” said Jack Clampit.

The bridge and spillway were damaged by the floods of March 2016, and DOTD agreed to fully fund the project due to an original agreement to repair the already worn out structure.

When the flood hit, Police Juror Jack Clampit said they never budgeted or requested money from FEMA because the state already told the parish they would replace it.

After years of debate and discussion, the state fulfilled their promise.

“It’s a project that got stalled by politics. That’s all it was plain and simple politics. We had to let the new Senator and new Representatives band together to get it pushed through,” said Clampit.

Clampit said the state must accept the bid before work starts.

He anticipates that could happen this week, with construction taking at least a year and a half depending on water levels.

“This project is going to get started, so if you have a dock you’ve been putting off building, a retaining wall, or maybe cleaning up camp in front of your house, now is the time to do it. Because this project’s going to start and you don’t want to be there when the water comes up saying I wish, I would of, or I should of,” said Clampit.

Copyright 2020 KNOE. All rights reserved.

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Trump issues order banning certain types of race training from federal contractors, grant recipients

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday evening that banned certain race and sex-based training from federal contractors, as well as the military and federal agencies — a follow-up move to a previous memo to end “critical race theory” and “white privilege” training for executive employees that the Trump administration has called “anti-American propaganda.”

A memo earlier this month from Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought on the same issue applied just to “executive branch agencies.” The Tuesday order said that “Executive departments and agencies… our Uniformed Services, Federal contractors, and Federal grant recipients” are required to avoid such trainings that “are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual.”

The order adds: “This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”

TRUMP ENDS ‘CRITICAL RACE THEORY’ TRAINING FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES, CALLS IT A ‘SICKNESS’

Trump announced the order in a pair of tweets.

“A few weeks ago, I BANNED efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex and race-based ideologies,” Trump said. “Today, I’ve expanded that ban to people and companies that do business … with our Country, the United States Military, Government Contractors, and Grantees. Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!”

As examples of things that would be against the new rules, the executive order lists a training from Argonne National Laboratories that

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The Block judge Darren Palmer issues a SAVAGE assessment on bathrooms

He’s known to speak his mind when critiquing the room reveals on The Block.

And judge Darren Palmer issued a savage assessment of two bathrooms from competing teams on Sunday night’s episode.

The interior design guru found the wall structure of Harry and Tash’s bathroom to be concerning, before admitting to ‘not liking anything’ about Daniel and Jade’s tiling. 

'It's a screw up!' The Block judge Darren Palmer (far left) issued a SAVAGE assessment of Harry and Tash's bathroom - before screwing his nose up at Daniel and Jade's tiling choices (pictured) on Sunday night's episode

‘It’s a screw up!’ The Block judge Darren Palmer (far left) issued a SAVAGE assessment of Harry and Tash’s bathroom – before screwing his nose up at Daniel and Jade’s tiling choices (pictured) on Sunday night’s episode 

Sunday’s episode saw the five teams choosing to style two rooms, one of which had to be a bathroom.  

Harry and Tash’s 1920’s bedroom started off on a positive note with all three judges, however their ensuite was a very different story.  

While Darren, Shaynna Blaze and Neale Whitaker were in awe of the colour palette and basin choice, Darren noticed a structural nightmare in builders having erected a straight frame crooked.

Positive: Harry and Tash's 1920's bedroom (pictured) started off on a positive note with all three judges, however their ensuite was a very different story

Positive: Harry and Tash’s 1920’s bedroom (pictured) started off on a positive note with all three judges, however their ensuite was a very different story 

Structural nightmare: However, with their bathroom, Darren noticed a structural nightmare in builders having erected a straight frame crooked

Structural nightmare: However, with their bathroom, Darren noticed a structural nightmare in builders having erected a straight frame crooked 

Design issues: What resulted was uneven tiling, meaning the entire wall beam would have to be taken out and reinstalled. Pictured: Harry and Tash

Design issues: What resulted was uneven tiling, meaning the entire wall beam would have to be taken out and reinstalled. Pictured: Harry and Tash

What resulted was uneven tiling, meaning the entire wall beam would have to be taken out and reinstalled.  

‘It’s a screw up! It’s sad that an error like that can undo all of this hard work, especially in this stressful environment,’ he said. 

Darren was also vocal when it came to assessing Daniel and Jade’s 1930’s bathroom. 

He was in awe of both kids’

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