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CPSIA – Obama Will Sign HR 2715 CPSIA Amendment Into Law Today

President Obama is expected to sign HR 2715, the CPSIA amendment that picks winners and losers and represents the end of legislative action to repair the misconceived CPSIA. Obama has to clear his desk before his vacation next week. This will be one of his last “to do’s” before R&R begins. Now what? Here is my prediction: a. The push will be on for the end of CPSIA rulemaking. Not only are the Dems on the CPSC Commission tired of this (times ten) but Congress wants this off their plate, too. Our petty concerns have been “addressed” and besides, what could go wrong anyway? Um, well, consider this ” colloquy ” between three powerful Democrats in the Senate. Before you read on, please note: – HR 2715 is a bipartisan bill, sponsored by both parties (obviously). This dialogue is among three like-minded Democrats. Why isn’t it a colloquy between both parties? Is this even relevant? As you will see, that depends on where you sit. – The three Senators involved have always agreed with each other on this law and have been remarkably resistant to any data, reasoning or argument that opposes their preconceived notions about the CPSIA or its groundings. Should their time-warp views be accorded any relevance? – Inez Tenenbaum has already cited this “colloquy” as her Congressional “instructions”. Dem to Dem. Storm clouds gathering? I have no idea if this dialogue actually took place or is just a figment published to justify the Dem agenda. Not even an interesting question to resolve, frankly. Enjoy: ” Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I rise to engage in a colloquy with my colleagues, Senators Durbin and Pryor, over the passage of H.R. 2715, a bill that passed on the House suspension calendar by a vote of 421-2 and the Senate by unanimous consent. Due to the fact that this bill bypassed regular order and failed to receive consideration in the Commerce Committee, I believe it is important to explain our intent in passing this bill.” Mr. DURBIN. I am frustrated that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has taken too long to promulgate rules required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, CPSIA, including the rules on third-party testing obligations and the component part testing rule. I did not oppose H.R. 2715, because it does not delay or impede the Commission’s ability to implement those rules–although it may place some increased costs on the Commission due to actions required as a result of new CPSC mandates and authorities–and I urge the Commission to complete its work expeditiously. Mr. ROCKEFELLER. I share the Senator’s concerns about the CPSC’s delay in promulgating its regulations in accordance with the mandates of CPSIA. While I sympathize with the CPSC over its resource constraints, the Commission must accelerate its efforts and complete the important regulations required under CPSIA. The provisions in section 2 of H.R. 2715 were not intended to delay or stop the Commission’s current rulemaking under section 102 (d)(2) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act to implement the critical provision related to the third-party testing of children’s products. I fully expect the Commission to go forward with these important rulemakings with no disruption from the passage of this bill. Given the limited resources of the Commission and recognizing the length of time it has taken to implement the provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, it is intended that most of H.R. 2715′s new mandates on the CPSC are not rulemakings. Some of the new authority, such as the functional purpose exemption and the authority to restrict the scope of the used products exemption, are subject to a notice and hearing requirement, but not to a rulemaking. Others, such as the creation of a new public registry for small batch manufacturers, can be implemented without notice and comment or even a hearing. As such, the Commission should act to effectuate the new mandates of this bill in a most expeditious manner. Mr. PRYOR. I also share the Senator’s view that nothing in H.R. 2715 is intended to delay the Commission’s rulemaking with respect to third party testing and believe that Commission should conclude its testing rulemakings in the next 2 months. I supported H.R. 2715 because it made minor modifications to an important consumer product safety law and supported implementation of important aspect of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act such as the consumer product database. This bill will require the CPSC to extend the deadline for posting reports on defective products by 5 days if a business asserts that the information in the report is not accurate. However, this change does not alter the fact that the Commission still must post the report in the database after those 5 days even if it is still reviewing the merits of the complaint. ” So now you know what is going to happen. Tenenbaum is practically broadcasting it. She has received her “instructions”. They’ve heard enough. b. With Thomas Moore’s run at the CPSC ending once and for all in October, and with consumer groups already publicly calling for his replacement ASAP, the Dems will be very anxious to complete as much work as possible before he goes. His replacement’s confirmation through the Senate is not a sure thing at all. Even a recess appointment is not as much an option as in the past (the Senate is running a “pro forma” session right now to head off this step by the President). If Moore is not replaced on a timely basis, the Commission will shrink to just four people which means that Tenenbaum and Adler might actually have to listen to their Republican counterparts and seek COMPROMISE to get things done. Don’t hold your breath – they’d prefer to get it done their way. Expect the worst from the next three months. c. 2012 will be the year of enforcement. In 2012, you will get to find out how well I can predict the future. 2012 won’t be fun for some people, maybe lots of people. Nothing good will be achieved from a safety standpoint but the CPSC will get to strut its stuff. [Does it strike you as ironic that Ms. Tenenbaum brags about falling recall rates under her reign? Is or isn't this the exact reason that Congress got so mad at Nancy Nord? I guess when Dems are in charge, falling recall rates are a good sign. When Republicans are in charge, it's so so bad,] Get ready for some tough times.

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CPSIA – Obama Will Sign HR 2715 CPSIA Amendment Into Law Today

CPSIA – NAM Ad In The Hill Supporting Passage of ECADA

From The Hill Newspaper, dated July 21, 2011: The time left to Congress to act on amending the CPSIA before the 100 ppm lead standard boom crushes more businesses and jobs is only 24 days .  [ Html version of the ad ]  This includes the time to get through the Senate, then conference, then to the President for signature.  Not a lot of time . . . and par for the course for this government, I suppose.  Will they act in time?  I certainly hope so but with Henry Waxman doing his evil best to prevent any progress on this issue, I don’t have high expectations.  Let’s hope some Democrats still have a conscience.

Excerpt from:
CPSIA – NAM Ad In The Hill Supporting Passage of ECADA

CPSIA – Trip Down Memory Lane (WSJ Editorials on CPSIA)

There have been nine editorials by The Wall Street Journal against the CPSIA.  I thought you might enjoy seeing them all in one place.  Below you will find links to all nine editorials, with a short highlight from each one. The more things change, the more they stay the same . . . . First Editorial (January 14, 2009):  Pelosi’s Toy Story “The damage comes from new rules governing lead in children’s products. After last year’s scare over contaminated toys made in China, Congress leapt in to require all products aimed at children under 12 years old to be certified as safe and virtually lead-free by independent testing. The burden may be manageable for big manufacturers and retailers that can absorb the costs of discarded inventory and afford to hire more lawyers. Less likely to survive are hundreds of small businesses and craftspeople getting hit with new costs in a down economy.” Second Editorial (February 6, 2009) Toys for Congress New lead rules hit next Tuesday. Whammo. “CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord has noted that the law has created ‘chaos and confusion,’ and as if to prove her point, yesterday New York federal Judge Paul G. Gardephe ruled that the law’s limits on a plasticizer known as “phthalates” should apply to existing inventory just as lead standards do — overturning a CPSC ruling to the contrary. That makes it even clearer that Congress needs to fix its own mess.  Trouble is, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is heavily invested in the fiasco. On passing the misguided law in August, she proclaimed that ‘with this legislation . . . we will be removing these products from the shelves.’ Taking store owners and toy entrepreneurs with her.” Third Editorial (March 30, 2009) Pelosi’s Library Quarantine The CPSC is left cleaning up the House Speaker’s messy child-safety law. “Democrats in Congress have leapt to criticize acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord, in hopes President Obama will replace her. But the real culprit here isn’t the CPSC, which is overwhelmed with requests from manufacturers trying to make sense of the chaos that Congress created. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman has dismissed efforts to improve the law, claiming the real problem is that “misinformation has spread” about the impact on businesses.” Fourth Editorial (April 3, 2009)   Toys R Congress Ruining the kids motorcycle business   “The multibillion-dollar children’s motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle industry has been clobbered. Kids motorcross racing has boomed in recent years in rural and Western states. And the regulators at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have decided that virtually all of these youth vehicles violate the new standards because of lead in the brakes, tire valves and gears. They’ve ordered motorcycle dealers to stop selling them, putting hundreds of dealers and the entire motorcross industry in a depression. With one stroke of the regulatory pen, an estimated $100 million of inventory can’t be sold, and the industry loss may reach $1 billion.”   Fifth Editorial (August 11, 2009)   Consumer Product Destruction Congress’s lead in toys panic is set to ruin more businesses.   “Jewelry makers now join the legions of other businesses on the hook for millions of dollars in lost sales, inventory or testing costs despite products that pose little to no risk of lead poisoning to children. In the spring, thrift-store operators like Goodwill and the Salvation Army predicted that without regulatory relief they would have to destroy more than $100 million of inventory. Toy stores expected some $600 million in playthings that would have to be trashed and another $2 billion in losses across the industry. Motorcycle and ATV makers predicted total losses and business disruptions around $1 billion. Children’s clothing stores have suffered huge losses, with Gymboree losing 40% of its market value overnight after reporting losses related to the House’s lead-paint panic.”   Sixth Editorial (November 7, 2009)   Congress’s Brass Knuckles Another casualty of the lead toy ‘safety’ law.   “CPSC Commissioner Anne Northrop noted that the decision not to grant a brass exemption shows that ‘the Commission does not believe there is any [flexibility] written into the law.’ Without action from Congress to address the chaos it created, Ms. Northrop said, ‘More small businesses will be forced to shut down.’ CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has insisted that changing the law would be ‘premature.’ Yet it has already been more than a year of bedlam for manufacturers and retailers negotiating these rules.”   Seventh Editorial (April 6, 2010)   Waxman’s Lead Poison A fix of a bad law that is no fix at all. “Mr. Waxman is insisting that any product applying for an exemption would still be subject to a three-pronged test to determine whether stripping lead from the product is ‘practicable or technologically feasible,’ whether a product might end up in a child’s mouth and whether its exemption would affect public safety. In a response, CPSC Commissioner Nancy Nord explained that since all three tests have to be met for a product to qualify, ‘the exception is as empty as the exception for no absorption of any lead. Such a provision does not really help anyone.’ . . . If Mr. Waxman wants to enhance Congress’s original creation, he should start by letting product safety regulators consider whether products are safe.” Eighth Editorial   (March 11, 2011) Get the Lead Out, Sir Nutty test standards give Obama a real chance to help business. “The law also requires the CPSC to propose the parameters of a third-party lead testing regime, but the issue is so mired in complexity that the commission has yet to set those standards. Under the proposed version of this so-called ’15 Month Rule,’ Learning Resources Chairman Rick Woldenberg has estimated that supplying multiple testing samples on each of his company’s toys and products will cost his company some $15 million per year. . . . At a hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February, California Democrat Henry Waxman defended the law as ‘necessary to protect kids and families across the country.’ We wonder how he figures that, since the incidence of lead poisoning from toys made by domestic manufacturers is nil.” Ninth Editorial (July 20, 2011) Toying With Deregulation Another agency ignores Mr. Obama’s executive order. “Here’s a question for White House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein: Do Presidential executive orders mean anything? Only last week President Obama asked independent agencies to examine existing rules and get rid of the duds, but nobody is listening. . . . Mr. Obama’s recent executive order is voluntary, but the President told agency heads that getting rid of red tape was an opportunity to ‘forge a 21st-century regulatory system that makes our economy stronger and more competitive.’ Perhaps Mr. Sunstein will tell toy makers it’s the thought that counts.”

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CPSIA – Trip Down Memory Lane (WSJ Editorials on CPSIA)

CPSIA – WSJ’s NINTH EDITORIAL Opposing the CPSIA

REVIEW & OUTLOOK JULY 20, 2011 Toying With Deregulation Another agency ignores Mr. Obama’s executive order. Here’s a question for White House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein: Do Presidential executive orders mean anything? Only last week President Obama asked independent agencies to examine existing rules and get rid of the duds, but nobody is listening. Within days of the executive order, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 3-2 that it is “technologically feasible” to impose a lower limit on lead content in children’s products, reducing the level to 100 parts per million from 300 parts per million. The new limit, which will go into effect August 14, will mean one more round of hair-pulling for small business owners who will have to change their manufacturing processes and junk existing products that don’t meet the new standard. The three votes in favor came from Mr. Obama’s chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum and two other Democratic commissioners. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed in 2008 in a frenzy of concern over lead content in toys from China, and it has since tormented anyone who makes or sells bicycles, books, children’s jewelry and so much more. Its strictures have imposed costs for testing, recalls and other inconveniences without any reasonable correlation to the risks to children. “No sweetheart, don’t eat that bicycle!” According to the CPSC, the plan to require that products be 99.99% lead free is reasonable because manufacturers would still be able to find materials and because some products already comply. While the additional safety gain will be negligible, the change will do damage in other ways, causing companies to avoid recycled metal and plastic, which may contain higher amounts of lead. It will also raise costs for metal parts, potentially driving some businesses to substitute plastic for metal, or stop producing children’s products. In the bicycle industry, a quarter of manufacturers have stopped making kids bikes. Instead of fixing its manifest flaws, Congressional Democrats who wrote the law have shrugged off small business complaints and opposed any changes. Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton and Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee Chair Mary Bono Mack introduced reforms earlier this year that would revise the law and give the CPSC greater authority to make regulation decisions based on actual risk. The bill is waiting for a mark-up at full committee but any reprieve would likely come too late for businesses facing the mid-August deadline. Mr. Obama’s recent executive order is voluntary, but the President told agency heads that getting rid of red tape was an opportunity to “forge a 21st-century regulatory system that makes our economy stronger and more competitive.” Perhaps Mr. Sunstein will tell toy makers it’s the thought that counts.

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CPSIA – WSJ’s NINTH EDITORIAL Opposing the CPSIA

CPSIA – Health and Safety Update

More fascinating revelations from Japan today.

CPSIA – NAM Letter Pounds the CPSIA Database

March 8, 2011

Mr. Todd A. Stevenson
Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Room 502
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814

Dear Mr. Stevenson:

The National Association of Manufacturers respectfully requests the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC” or “Commission”) to 1) reconsider aspects of its final rule on the Publicly Accessible Database (“Database’),1 and 2) continue for at least three months the “Soft Launch” phase of the Database to allow the Commission and affected business users to address operational and administrative flaws identified in the “Soft Launch” to date.

On January 21, 2011 the Commission announced a “Soft Launch” to test procedures and processes to implement the database requirements, as interpreted by the Commission in its final rule. As the official Database launch date approached, companies have registered or attempted to register to participate in the Database. A total of 723 registrant companies were reported in testimony to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade on February 17, which is only a fraction of companies manufacturing or importing consumer products in the United States. In addition, due to reported technical problems only a few preliminary “reports of harm” (as defined in the CPSC’s Final Rule on the Database) have now been able to be subject to completed processing. NAM has similarly sought information from manufacturers, importers and private labelers on experiences and problems encountered during such soft launch.

Based upon surveys of manufacturer experience, the following have been discovered to be problems which must be addressed by the Commission prior to final launch of the database:

1. Manufacturers with different divisions and brands among different product lines have indicated an inability on the part of CPSC staff to timely register multiple parties within such corporations. It is important to both the CPSC and manufacturers that the system allow for the assignment of adequate identifiers to permit review and comment on the material inaccuracy of filed complaint data within the database in a timely fashion as required by the final rule, minimizing duplicative filings for multiple corporate entities within a broader organization and allowing for streamlined communications between businesses and the CPSC. The difficulty in registering by brand/product line/division and the slow or incomplete response by the CPSC to registration raises troubling questions about the promised flow of information between the CPSC and registered companies.

2. A number of manufacturers, importers and private labelers have reported that reports not directly involving “Harm” (an express precondition to processing and posting) have contaminated the Database. Some respondents report that as many as 30% of the complaints forwarded were not adequately scrubbed to assure that they involve “harm,” as defined by law, as an express precondition to processing and posting within the database. Other respondents indicate that some claims are simply conjecture based on a review of Internet postings or product listings on a website. Such unresolved errors can undermine the integrity and purpose of the Database.

3. Licensors have indicated that they have received reports that are materially inaccurate since they involve products for which they are not the manufacturer, importer or private labeler, but which have been identified as suitable for posting. This has occurred notwithstanding a response from licensors verifying that they have been falsely identified as the manufacturer, importer or private labeler of the product, when they are not. The challenge to accurately identify the responsible party is apparently not being met by the filers, and these inaccuracies are not currently being rectified by the CPSC staff.2

4. Manufacturers, importers or private labelers have indicated that they have received reports of harm identifying an incident as involving their product that did not in fact involve their product, so were materially inaccurate, and advised CPSC of this fact. They have not received return affirmative confirmation that CPSC staff will not post such false claims in the database. CPSC staffers have indicated they may not possess the resources to adequately scrub the database to avoid posting upon such notification. This is contrary to the express direction of Congress that materially inaccurate information with the potential for irreparable reputational harm be vetted prior to posting. This is essential to fundamental fairness. Although the Commission has sought to transfer the burden of proof to manufacturers, it cannot do so once a claim is made that such data is false or materially inaccurate. The Commission can assure the public during an extended soft launch that no such harm occurs.

5. Registrant businesses also report that the completed complaint forms they received often omitted necessary data such as the model, serial number, date of manufacture or date/tracking code information (required by law to be contained on many products, including specifically children’s products) so as to better identify the products alleged to be involved with the potential for harm. The absence of this critical data makes such reports unverifiable, which can result in unfair damage to the reputation of products, brands and manufacturers.

6. The Commission’s decision in the final rule to define the term “consumer” very broadly appears contrary to the intent of Congress, and will result in the potential for multiple reports of harm involving the identical incident. This will result in public confusion about the potential extent of any possible harm and will result in the inclusion of reports based on second-hand information without the possibility of verification. Experience with paper-based reporting demonstrates that often multiple products are erroneously cited as related to reported injuries without an actual causative connection. This results in misidentification and duplication of reports, which must be avoided in the Database.

While the NAM supports a product incident database serving consumers’ need for accurate product information, we do not believe a poorly-functioning database serves the public interest. Based upon the foregoing, we respectfully request and petition the Commission to reconsider the final rule and extend the “Soft Launch” for a period of three months, so as to enable its staff to implement the statutorily mandated Database in accordance with the conditions imposed under statute and the Commission’s own regulations.

To ensure the accuracy of information submitted to the database, we specifically ask that the Commission reconsider, under its final rule, the expansive definition of “consumer” and “public safety entities” that include attorneys, investigators, or other agents of a consumer and consumer advocates, individuals who work for NGO’s, consumer advocacy organizations and trade associations. Additionally, we ask the Commission to reconsider its provisions for review of claims of materially inaccuracy and its decision not to withhold potentially inaccurate information from publication until it makes a final determination of its accuracy. Last, we ask that the Commission reconsider any provisions or sections of its rule that prevent it from effectively implementing Congressional intent or its stated aims to ensure timely review and processing of database submissions and to ensure the accuracy of its contents.

Sincerely,

Rosario Palmieri
Vice President
Infrastructure, Legal and Regulatory Policy
The National Association of Manufacturers

1 75 Fed. Reg. 76832-76872 (December 9, 2010).

2 According to the CPSC, firms receiving notice of a report of harm that incorrectly identifies them as the responsible manufacturer or private labeler of a product that immediately informs the Commission of such misidentification can reasonably expect the CPSC to stop the 10 day clock for publication of the report in the Database. If the recipient of the report of harm is not the manufacturer or private labeler, the Commission can decide not to post the report either because it is materially inaccurate or because it has determined that the report of harm is missing one of the minimum requirements for publication. CPSC staff has noted that given its experience with the incident reporting system, it recognizes that consumers may misidentify the product manufacturer or private labeler. Such claims of material inaccuracy generally are resolved quickly and easily if the receiving firm provides sufficient information. Staff further notes that Firms have an incentive to immediately report errors to prevent reports of harm from being published in the Database that misidentify them as the manufacturer or private labeler. This underscores the importance of an accurate registration system that allows businesses to be identified and to quickly get reports of harm to relevant business contacts within the company so that a response can be provided. The CPSC has not yet defined what information will be deemed “sufficient” to block publication, leaving manufacturers, importers and private labelers to guess on how to deal with inaccurate identification of their products or brands in database filings.

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CPSIA – NAM Letter Pounds the CPSIA Database

CPSIA – House CPSIA Hearing Line-up

Here is the line-up for today’s hearing. Please note that the format is first, Members’ opening statements, second, Panel 1 presentations (five minutes each), third, questions by Members of the first panel (five minutes per member asking questions), fourth, second panel presentations, fifth, questions for the second panel. As the first panel today is Inez Tenenbaum and Anne Northup, we are certainly second fiddle so you can expect that portion of the hearing to take some time.

February 17, 2011

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing on Thursday, February 17, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled “A Review of CPSIA and CPSC Resources.”

WITNESS LIST

Panel 1:

The Honorable Inez Tenenbaum
Chairman
Consumer Product Safety Commission

The Honorable Anne Northup
Commissioner
Consumer Product Safety Commission

Panel 2:

Ms. Jolie Fay
Founder, Skipping Hippos
Secretary, Handmade Toy Alliance

Mr. Wayne Morris
Vice President, Division Services
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers

Mr. Rick Woldenberg
Chairman
Learning Resources, Inc.

Ms. Nancy A. Cowles
Executive Director
Kids In Danger

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CPSIA – House CPSIA Hearing Line-up

CPSIA – Let’s Take a Break and Think About Illinois Taxes

Hey, every once in a while it’s worth taking a breather and considering other truly amazing political stories from the big city. Consider this story entitled “Billion Dollar Baby: A Cautionary Tale” published today by Andy Shaw, formerly a local Chicago ABC-TV correspondent and now President of the Better Government Association (good luck there, Andy!).

In this tale, Mr. Shaw recounts how Illinois’ 67% tax increase was passed by a single vote Tuesday evening during a short, one-week lame duck session. You see, the Dems who run this State with an iron fist were facing the loss of several seats to the Republicans when the new legislature was sworn into office on Wednesday, hence the need to pass the tax increase Tuesday in the middle of the night. How to do it, how to do it???

Mr. Shaw:

“She is somebody somebody sent.

In the best—or maybe it’s the worst—tradition of local politics. And she was pressured into voting for a multi-billion dollar hike in the state income tax in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. By her Democratic Party allies in Springfield.

Some of her friends and neighbors may be unhappy with the tax vote but she won’t be facing any political consequences or voter backlash. And here’s why: She stepped down as an Illinois State Representative at noon on Wednesday. After one week on the job. That’s right—one week. She was, in simple terms, the lamest lame duck in a feckless Springfield flock. A billion-dollar baby.

“She” is Kathy Moore, a Lincoln Park friend and former public school teacher who was put in that unenviable position by the stark reality of political hide-and-seek. Or, in this case, seek-and-hide. Her reliably Democratic 11th District, which includes Lincoln Park and Lakeview, elected a brand new state representative, Ann Williams, in November, to replace John Fritchey, a popular long-time rep who won election to a seat on the Cook County Board. Fritchey began his new job in December, so Williams could have been sworn in as a state rep a month ago to represent the district in the lame-duck session going on in Springfield this past week. That was her initial plan.

But there were questions about how she would vote if a tax plan was on the lame-duck agenda. Williams claims that local Democratic leaders, including Fritchey and Senate President John Cullerton, wanted her commitment to support the tax hike before arranging for her to be sworn in. They say she got cold feet and decided not to start early—choosing instead to wait until Wednesday, when the rest of the freshman legislative class was sworn in.

(That, parenthetically, will save the taxpayers a few bucks because Williams won’t qualify for a more generous legislative pension than the one awaiting the new class in Springfield, thanks to a modest pension reform bill that took effect on Jan. 1. But her decision will cost the 11th District politically because, instead of moving to the top of the seniority list of new legislators by starting in December, she will be near the bottom since she’s entering with all of the other newbies, and her last name begins with “W,” a letter near the end of the alphabet. Oh well.)

Meanwhile, back at the raunch—yes, I said raunch and not ranch—Williams’s decision not to be seated early meant the political bosses in the district—Fritchey, Cullerton and the other ward committeemen—had to find someone else to fill the seat for the one-week lame-duck session. So they recruited Kathy Moore, the wife of Tom Moore, a well-known Lincoln Park zoning lawyer—because Kathy had the time and the willingness to “serve.” And down I-55 she went. Admitting sheepishly at a party last week that “they tell me what (voting) button to push and I push it.” Democracy in action.

So when the tax bill passed, without a single vote to spare, our lawmaker-for-a-week was a major reason. She says she’s not happy about voting for a gargantuan tax increase but she doesn’t think that she, or the state, had any other choice. Even though, as of Sunday, she hadn’t seen a bill. Or a press release. Or a fact sheet. Or a list of cuts, accountability measures and streamlining to go along with the increase.

“I hope it works,” she said wistfully in a text message on Wednesday morning. Williams says, for the record, that she would’ve had a hard time supporting the tax bill in its present form.

In any event, Kathy Moore was back home in Chicago by Wednesday night after morphing into a regular resident following her week as a political pumpkin. Kind of like “Cinderella” in reverse. And she may not be the life of the cocktail parties in the neighborhood for awhile, at least among the well-healed wine-and-cheese folks who will have several-thousand fewer dollars in their pockets for each of the next four years.

As for Ann Williams, the newly elected House member, she assumed her duties as the new representative of the 11th district at noon on Wednesday. And my spies at her Springfield welcoming parties report there was no evidence of any dust, dirt or snow from the rock she’s been hiding under.

Don’t you just love the Illinois Way? And can’t you see why we love being civic watchdogs?”

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CPSIA – Let’s Take a Break and Think About Illinois Taxes

GUEST BLOG – Bill Chiasson: To the Media, CPSIA problems are spelled B-O-R-I-N-G

You all probably heard the philosophical question, “if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” You can ask a similar question in regards to the impact the CPSIA has had on small and medium-sized businesses – “if another U.S. worker loses his or her job due to the unintended consequences of the CPSIA, will anyone hear about it?” The answer is – only if you are reading this blog site. That’s because the media prefers only sensational headlines. The headline, “200 more workers lose their job due to the economic impact of the CPSIA” just doesn’t have the same panache as a prime time news show teaser like “Toxic Toys – No child is safe – tonight on ___________ news!!”

Sadly, most television viewers don’t know what C-P-S-I-A stands for. Chances are they will press the fast forward button on their Tivo remote faster than you can say CPSC in order to skip to the latest news update on the “Octamom” story.

I have come to the conclusion that the major reason this law will not be fixed to tolerable levels is because the general public takes what they hear from consumer advocates, government officials, and the media as gospel. There has been no public debate; no investigative report; no public outcry to get to the truth. Think about last Christmas season when the popular toy, Zhu Zhu Pet, was MISTAKENLY reported on every evening news program and in every major newspaper to contain unsafe levels of antimony in violation of the CPSIA. This report was released BEFORE the CPSC actually reviewed the case brought forth by the overzealous consumer advocate group, GoodGuide. Within about 24 hours after the story was released, the CPSC declared that the Zhu Zhu Pet was not in violation of any federal laws and was, in effect, safe. Do you think all the news outlets retracted their story? Did anyone offer an apology to the maker of the Zhu Zhu Pet? Do the Cleveland Cavaliers have a prayer to win a championship next year?

How can misinformation regarding lead in children’s product continue to spread and be consumed by the public while the truth is buried and ignored? How can painfully obvious common sense be trumped by outlandish, unfounded claims by the non-scientific community? Consider the audience.

According to a new survey released by the legal information website Findlaw.com, two-thirds of 1,000 American adults polled could not name a single current Supreme Court justice, and just one percent were able to name all nine sitting justices. I must admit, I am one of the 99% of Americans who could not name all nine without the help of Wikipedia. Now, here’s a stunner. From the 1,000 people polled, which justice was named most often? If you guessed Clarence Thomas, congratulations! If you are over the age of 40, there is a good reason you remember Clarence Thomas. The media made sure you wouldn’t forget about his confirmation hearings that took place 20 years ago. If you are under the age of forty, Google it.

The same thing is happening with the media coverage of the CPSIA. The facts are overlooked and only news-worthy sound bites are publicized.

The point I am trying to make is that as responsible, informed, voting Americans, we should not exercise blind faith as if our Congress always has our best interests in mind and the media is reporting the absolute truth. We owe it to ourselves to be informed citizens by doing our own research and reading a variety of media sources so that we may elect government officials into office who use common sense (and scientific facts) to make informed legislative decisions.

We must get Congress and the CPSIA to realize the damage the CPSIA is causing and fix it once and for all.

Please, do your research, GET THE FACTS, and spread the word!


Guest Blog by Bill Chiasson, Executive Vice President, COO of ETA/Cuisenaire, a division of A. Daigger & Company. ETA/Cuisneair has over 8,000 manipulative-based educational and supplemental materials for PreKindergarten and grades K-12 that enrich teaching and engage students in math, reading/language arts, and science.


Posted by the Staff of the Alliance for Children’s Product Safety

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GUEST BLOG – Bill Chiasson: To the Media, CPSIA problems are spelled B-O-R-I-N-G

CPSIA – At First, I Thought The Onion Was Trying to be Funny. . . .

I think this is a parody, not a real news report. At least I think so. . . .

News Report: Majority Of Government Doesn’t Trust Citizens Either
May 19, 2010 ISSUE 46•20
Senators protest against a public they say has become too bloated to efficiently populate the country.

WASHINGTON—At a time when widespread polling data suggests that a majority of the U.S. populace no longer trusts the federal government, a Pew Research Center report has found that the vast majority of the federal government doesn’t trust the U.S. populace all that much either.

According to the poll—which surveyed members of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches—9 out of 10 government officials reported feeling “disillusioned” by the populace and claimed to have “completely lost confidence” in the citizenry’s ability to act in the nation’s best interests.

“All the vitriol and partisan bickering in Congress has caused most Americans to form negative opinions of the U.S. government,” Pew researcher Amy Ratner said. “However, over the same time period, the government has likewise grown wary of U.S. citizens, largely due to their utter lack of foresight, laziness, and overall incompetence.”

Added Ratner, “And the fact that American Idol is still the No. 1 show on television doesn’t exactly make our government burst with confidence.”

Out of 100 U.S. senators polled, 84 said they don’t trust the U.S. populace to do what is right, and 79 said Americans are not qualified to do their jobs. Ninety-one percent of all government officials polled said they find citizens to be every bit as irresponsible, greedy, irrational, and selfishly motivated as government officials are.

Moreover, according to nearly 100 percent of respondents, Wal-Mart.

“It makes complete sense for Americans to lose faith in a government that has allowed lobbyists and special interests to take over Washington,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters. “That being said, you could see why Washington might likewise lose faith in a populace that apparently still suspects that its president is a secret Muslim who was not born in the United States.”

Citing the billions of dollars wasted annually on flavored water and boneless buffalo wings, the number of drunk-driving deaths each year, and the lack of citizen accountability for the rise of Kim Kardashian, government officials registered extremely low opinions of the American people overall.

“This is the same American populace that failed to prevent us from deregulating the banks that almost caused a complete economic meltdown last year,” Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) said. “Year after year, they elect terrible officials who make terrible decisions on their behalf. The fact that I, Jim Bunning, am a two-term U.S. senator really shows you just how far Americans have gone off the rails.”

“I wouldn’t trust anyone who voted me into office,” he added.

Government skepticism is not confined to legislators, though. A cross-sampling of the U.S. Supreme Court found that only 1 in 9 justices believe the general populace to be ethical. Their confidence that the American people can resist consuming the newest Burger King sandwich just because it’s there or at least keep it to one a week has also fallen to a 10-year low.

“They can’t even fill out their census forms, for crying out loud,” Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho said. “It’s only 10 questions long. We’re not talking about taking the SATs here. Jesus Christ, don’t get me started on the SATs.”

One typical respondent, President Barack Obama, said he found it hard to trust the judgment of U.S. citizens after recent events, including their decision to elect a president who promised health care reform and then come out against health care reform.

“How can I have hope for a nation that regularly protests tax cuts that directly benefit them?” Obama said. “Look, I’m not always perfect at my job, either, but I think I could make a halfway coherent comment on a YouTube video if I had to. Isn’t that basically all they do?

Added Obama, “At this point, the only positive thing I can say about the American people is that I’m pretty sure they’ve never rigged an election in their favor.”

Read more here:
CPSIA – At First, I Thought The Onion Was Trying to be Funny. . . .

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